Protest targets Roosevelt Island peace officers
More than 200 Roosevelt Island residents met Saturday to air alleged abuses by the island's 42-member security force and call for reforms, including greater oversight.
At Good Shepherd Church, a dozen people took turns offering harrowing accounts of being injured or threatened by peace officers over the past five years.
"My son almost lost his life due to a public safety officer," Monica Vega said.
Vega is the mother of 20-year-old Anthony Jones, who has filed a notice of intent to sue the state-run Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. following a Jan. 13 incident.
Jones' attorney, Michael Lamonsoff, claims peace officers assaulted Jones for no reason, then held him at a hospital in serious condition for days without a charge ever being filed.
"We've been trying to get people to come forward for years . . . It's because of Monica's courage," said Erin Feely-Nahem, chairwoman of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, who claims her 15-year-old son, Andrew, was assaulted by a peace officer without cause in 2008.
The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment on the allegations.
Representing other island families, Lamonsoff last year filed three civil lawsuits against the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. and its peace officers -- deputized civilians who work with the NYPD and who have the power to make arrests. He said the DA's office has told his clients privately that it intends to investigate.
The corporation wouldn't comment yesterday, but Keith Guerra, who leads the security force, responded to the allegations on his blog. "I want to reassure you that this office does not tolerate excessive use of force nor constitutional rights violations that put members of the public at risk," he wrote.
Guerra said he'd accept one proposed reform -- an oversight board. But residents said they're out of patience: They want the chief replaced.
Jones, who attended the event, said he's afraid to go outside much, and his mother keeps a close eye.
"I'm 20 years old and I have to get my mother's permission to go to the corner store," he said.