On Monday evening, Anthony and Victoria Noel, the parents of 15-year-old Benjamin Marshall, joined their attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, Reverend Kevin McCall and a dozen other activists in a march from Jay Street-MetroTech across Downtown Brooklyn to the 84th Precinct.
With arms linked, they walked through the streets while chanting “Justice for Benjamin” and “no justice, no peace.” They continued their demonstration in front of the precinct.
McCall said activists will not stop until the unidentified officer who punched Marshall is forced from the NYPD.
“He needs to be fired, the officer must go,” he said. “He doesn’t need training, he needs to be removed.
“We will not stand for the injustice of a child, any child, being brutalized by the NYPD,” McCall added. “They are not above the law.”
The subway melee broke out inside the station on October 25. According to reports, police officers from the 84th Precinct were called in response to reports of a fight between teenagers that spilled into the platform.
In a viral video, the unidentified officer can be seen punching Marshall. That officer has since been placed on non-enforcement duty. Marshall reportedly suffered a concussion from the incident.
Five young people were arrested on charges including resisting arrest. Marshall was accused of assaulting a police officer, though his parents and activists have said he was not part of the initial brawl.
Rubenstein, the family’s attorney, said justice for Marshall first means disclosing the name of the police officer who committed the assault.
“Not releasing it is the same as a police officer hiding his shield and turning his badge around because he doesn’t want to be identified,” he said.
The attorney added that Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has opened a criminal probe into the actions of the officers involved in the brawl. Marshall is fully cooperating with the criminal investigation, Rubenstein said.
Additionally, the Noel family has filed a $5 million claim for damages for what happened to Marshall. Rubenstein said a jury will ultimately decide what damage he’s entitled to.
“But bottom line, this should not be happening in this city,” he said. “The brutalization of a 15-year-old young man is unacceptable.”
Rubenstein said the criminal investigation takes priority and will be conducted first. If appropriate, a grand jury would convene, followed by criminal charges. The civil case would come after any criminal action.
In front of the 84th Precinct, Anthony Noel, Marshall’s father, said now he understands why activist and quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee. Noel dropped to one knee while speaking.
“We are being assaulted by the NYPD,” he said. “It needs to stop now.”
As for his son, Noel said Marshall is still traumatized by the incident.
“He’s in a lot of pain,” Noel said. “Emotionally, he’s all messed up right now.”
Noel added that he’s fighting for justice to send a message to the NYPD that “this type of behavior” for public servants will not be tolerated.
“It’s not just for my family alone, it’s for other families down the road,” he said. “We are not supposed to be dealing with situations like this.”
Victoria Noel, Marshall’s mother, said she wants “every little boy and every little girl” know that they deserve to go to school, get a proper education and be safe.
While police officers are supposed to be protecting them, not harming them, “that’s not the case,” she said.
“We deserve what is right,” she said. “That is justice for every little boy and little girl, especially right now for my son.”
McCall noted that on Monday, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill announced his resignation. Current Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea will take the leading role on December 1.
The social justice preacher said while activists don’t know Shea, they want to send him a clear message: fix the NYPD.
“If you want to do community policing right, fix the NYPD by getting rid of that officer that assaulted this young man,” McCall said. “We need justice, and we will not stop until we get it.”
The activist called for the NYPD to have a public discussion with the young people and the Noel family.
“No closed-door meeting,” McCall added. “Let’s have a public discussion on what real policing and community policing means.”