Justin Adkins, assistant director of the Multicultural Center (MCC), was arrested Saturday during the Occupy Wall Street protest on the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC. Adkins, who turned himself in peacefully, alleged that officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) mistreated him after he identified himself as a transgender man.
The protest, which was meant as rebellion against the corporate greed and political power of Wall Street, saw the arrest of more than 700 activists as protestors occupied vehicular lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday afternoon. Adkins, attending the second weekend of the ongoing demonstration, reported on his blog Monday afternoon that, following his arrest and transportation to Brooklyn’s 90th Precinct, he was isolated from other male protestors, denied food and water and was treated with contempt by members of the NYPD.
According to a live blog published by The Guardian, Adkins was arrested at approximately 4:00 p.m., peacefully surrendering to NYPD officers. According to Adkins on his own blog, when he yelled to the legal observer on the bridge that he was born female, the arresting officer was puzzled. The officer reportedly asked Adkins “what [he] had down there,” in reference to Adkins’ genitals.
Adkins’ account goes on to describe in detail how precinct officers handcuffed him to a railing adjacent to the cellblock’s only functioning toilet, leading officers to parade other protestors past Adkins in a fashion that he describes as not only disgusting but also humiliating. He also describes the discriminatory attitudes of the police officers, who, he says, “gawked, giggled and stared at me.” Adkins claims that one female officer in particular, who had identified Adkins to the other officers as transgender, “was using my identity to get a laugh with men who she thought would find me curious and freakish.” According to Adkins, the officers’ apparent prejudice made him fearful of using the bathroom, leading him to sit uncomfortably throughout his incarceration. Moreover, Adkins also notes that he, unlike the other protestors, did not receive any food or water during his eight-hour stay at the precinct.
Upon his release at 2 a.m, Adkins was issued a desk appearance ticket and charged with disorderly conduct. “To my knowledge, I was the only one out of 70 processed at Precinct 90 who received only one ticket,” he said in the blog post. “The rest received 2 or 3 tickets mostly including refusing to disperse and blocking a roadway.”
“At this point I haven’t made a decision about any legal action – I’m talking to my lawyer about that right now,” Adkins said. Meanwhile, he says he will fight for codified procedures for transgender individuals accused of crimes.
“[The NYPD] did not have a written protocol of what to do, so they decided to separate me out and keep me from anyone because they didn’t know what to do,” he said. Adkins is encouraging people to contact the NYPD about the need for a written protocol for the processing and incarceration of transgender suspects.
“Justin is a highly valued member of the college community,” said Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for Public Affairs. “Everyone I know is saddened and disturbed by his report.”
Adkins’ story and allegations have already been picked up by national and international press besides The Guardian, including The Huffington Post.
The NYPD declined to comment.