Roughly 50 people marched on Brooklyn’s 77th Precinct to protest the arrest of Jabbar Campbell, a party promoter who says police assaulted him during an event at his Crown Heights home. The group characterized the January 13 police action against Campbell as an anti-gay attack.
“We have to fight back against police brutality,” said Campbell, 32, during the January 21 protest. “I was an innocent man, and I was brutalized by police from the 77th Precinct.”
Campbell, who has produced at least 10 parties in recent months in his Sterling Place home, was “hosting a party for some gay friends of mine” on January 13. He said about 80 people were there.
Two police officers arrived shortly before 3 a.m. Campbell spoke to them on the sidewalk outside his home and they instructed him to shut the party down. The officers continued to wait outside and, within five to 10 minutes, additional officers from the 77th Precinct arrived, joined by officers from the Patrol Borough Brooklyn North. Campbell said officers in that second wave attacked him when he opened his front door.
“They beat me into a daze,” he said. “They cursed at me and called me all sorts of anti-gay slurs.”
Video cameras at Campbell’s front door and inside his apartment did not capture his arrest or the altercation with police, but the front door camera showed a sergeant reaching up and turning it toward the wall before Campbell answered the door the second time. A camera inside the apartment shows police moving the guests out and then searching the apartment.
“At least five or six cops clear out the apartment and then stay and continue to search,” said Herb Subin, a partner at Subin Associates, the law firm representing Campbell in a suit against the city.
“What I think happened is that there were a lot transgenders, transsexuals on the sidewalk and that freaked the cops out, and they were going to come bust it up,” Subin said.
A friend of Campbell’s who was at the party told Gay City News that during the search officers repeatedly asked him if Campbell was hosting a “sex orgy” in the apartment.
Campbell was charged with third-degree assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and possessing marijuana and ecstasy. He has pleaded not guilty.
In an email, the police department press office wrote that Campbell has “hosted parties there with a $10 charge per person to enter, then a cash bar on top on that. IAB [the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau] is investigating his complaints against the officers.”
The police department did not respond to a request for any 911 calls concerning Campbell’s address. The city’s 311 system shows 22 complaints about loud music or a party associated with Campbell’s address since September of last year.
Precinct commanders receive regular reports about 311 complaints, so it is possible Campbell’s parties were known to the 77th Precinct and considered a problem. Police responded to at least three of those earlier complaints and either could not gain entry to the apartment or they “observed no violation,” according to the 311 website.
The protest, organized by the ANSWER Coalition, began at Campbell’s Sterling Place home, traveled a few blocks to the 77th Precinct on Utica Avenue, then back to his home after some speeches.
Joining the march were representatives from the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), Harlem Pride, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and Make the Road New York, a social justice organization.
Those groups and others have planned a press conference for 6 p.m. on Saturday, January 26 on the Eastern Parkway pedestrian mall at Utica Avenue, after which they will conduct neighborhood outreach “to raise awareness about rights and safety for LGBTQ community members and all in our communities affected by this violence.”