CUNY journalism student arrested while covering protest over Eric Garner’s choking death

NEW YORK — A journalism student at the City University of New York faces a disorderly conduct charge after police arrested her Wednesday night at a protest over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner.

Desiree Mathurin, a CUNY graduate student, said she was reporting on the protest for CUNY’s New York City Newswire when protesters began to sit down in the Brooklyn Bridge roadway. After New York Police Department officers used a bullhorn to tell demonstrators they were not allowed to obstruct traffic, they began to arrest people who did not comply.

Mathurin said she was taking pictures of an officer arresting someone when she was told to move.

“So I was moving, taking photos,” She said. “I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough.”

Mathurin showed the New York police officer her university-issued press pass but was still arrested because the officer told her the police department didn’t issue the press credential, she said.

NYPD spokeswoman Sophia Mason confirmed Mathurin was charged with disorderly conduct but didn’t have details of the arrest. Mason said Mathurin was one of 83 people arrested at the rally.

Mathurin said she plans to contest the charge at her Jan. 26 court date and is looking into legal representation.

Mathurin said the arrest, which occurred at about midnight, was a surreal experience. She was released at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

“As far as CUNY is concerned, and as far as my professors are concerned,” Mathurin said, “it shouldn’t have happened.”

SPLC staff writer Anna Schiffbauer can be reached by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 127.