In the wake of the January 2019 death of Jameek Lowrey while in Paterson Police custody, people took to the street to demand justice. At the conclusion of a rally outside Paterson’s City Hall, organizers and protestors began a short march.
Almost immediately — after just a block or two — police officers on motorcycles blocked the marchers’ path. The officers ushered two people, Zellie Thomas and Hawk Newsome, into a store’s security gate and placed them under arrest. Mr. Thomas is a leader of Black Lives Matter of Paterson and Mr. Newsome is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. Although video confirms that officers said nothing before arresting the two men, police reports (and, later, testimony at trial) indicated that the officers warned Mr. Thomas and Mr. Newsome to get out of the street and the men refused. They were charged with Obstructing the Administration of Law and Interference with Transportation.
After a trial before the Paterson Municipal Court, both men were acquitted. Thereafter they filed suit against the Paterson Police Department and several officers involved in the arrest.