The Crime Blotter

NYPD’s Team Lawrence Tackles Hammer-Wielding Protester

One of the World Economic Forum’s most spectacular arrests, a Super Bowl XXXVI–style tackle, was made by none other than Howard Lawrence, the commanding officer of the 19th Precinct. On Sunday, Feb. 3, Deputy Inspector Lawrence was escorting a group of boisterous but well-behaved animal-rights protesters through the Upper East Side when one of them, a 23-year-old Queens man, suddenly produced a hammer with which he proceeded to smash some of the front windows of the Siena, a 31-story doorman apartment building at 188 East 76th Street.

“I was upset,” explained the police official (though he used a more colorful word). Inspector Lawrence didn’t wait for his officers, of whom there were many present, to do the honors: “Another inspector and myself tackled him and took him to the ground. We kind of converged on him. We both had instinctively just rushed him.”

The other cop was Inspector Thomas Lawrence, the commanding officer of the Midtown South Precinct.

“We got him down,” Inspector Lawrence-Howard Lawrence-continued. “He was struggling a little bit on the ground. We had to bring his hands behind his back. We used the flex cuffs on him.”

While this was happening, a second protester threw a balloon filled with red paint at the building. The group, the Coalition for Earth and Animal Liberation, was protesting animal testing by a company called Huntingdon Life Sciences; they believed a member of Huntingdon’s board of directors lived at the Siena. The balloon missed the building, but it did strike the pants and shoes of Detective Stephen Petrillo, the 19th Precinct’s community-affairs officer.

“I was right behind him,” Detective Petrillo said of Inspector Howard Lawrence.

“He said he had my back,” the precinct commander recalled.

“He was very quick,” Detective Petrillo added, picking up some points with the boss. “He moved like a flash.”

“From my anti-crime-fighting days in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant,” Inspector Lawrence explained proudly.

The perp was charged with criminal mischief, riot and inciting a riot. He was carted off, not to the 19th Precinct, but to the Brooklyn Army Terminal for processing.

Cop Stands Ground-More or Less

It wasn’t all action all the time for the thousands of cops assigned to the vicinity of the World Economic Forum. Most seemed to have little to do but connive to stay warm, but Scott McDounagh-a police officer who normally works out of the 50th Precinct in the Bronx-was another officer who had his hands full.

On Thursday, Jan. 31 Officer McDounagh had been assigned to a checkpoint on the west side of 51st Street and Lexington Avenue, where he was soon reminded that New Yorkers will indeed be New Yorkers. Pedestrians who found their way blocked by the blue police barricades that the officer was manning seemed to think the obstructions were meant for somebody else.

“I’m going to 151 East 50th,” stated one man.

Officer McDounagh politely requested that he use the other side of the street.

“Where you headed, sir?” he asked the next hard-charger in a business suit.

“Chase at 48th and Park.”

The gentleman may have believed that his banking needs were as pressing as the need to prevent terrorist incidents, but he too was implored to use the opposite side of the street.

Several actual conference participants wielding invitations did manage to get through the barricades, though none had the star power of Colin Powell, George Soros or the other heavy-hitters attending the forum. Indeed, most of the folks gliding through the checkpoint looked like those middle managers that are endemic to Northern Europe-the kind who sport razor-sharp goatees and wear suits cut a little too tight around the waist.

Officer McDounagh, who seemed unfazed by the majesty of his position, had a ready explanation for the second-string appearance of the attendees he was handling. “This is just the back,” he said matter-of-factly.

However, the assignment wasn’t without its pressures; split-second security decisions did have to be made. At one point, Officer McDounagh was approached by a gentleman in pinstripes.

“Where you headed, sir?” the officer asked.

“To buy a cigar,” the fellow answered, pointing to a smoke shop a few doors up.

Without missing a beat, Officer McDounagh showed him through.

Sandwich Man With a Plan

In another impressive example of the NYPD’s refusal to allow the forum to paralyze the wheels of urban commerce, Jean Baptiste Korgo was able, despite all the hubbub, to hand out leaflets on 52nd Street and Park Avenue. Mr. Korgo might well have been mistaken for one of the many protesters in the area who were trying to draw the attention of the media-or any foreign minister who chanced to meander out of the frozen zone and over to Burger Heaven for lunch-to the plight of everything from the whales to persecuted practitioners of Falun Gong.

One difference, however, was that instead of waving around a sign of protest, Mr. Korgo was wearing a sandwich board advertising the lowest prices on Armani and Hugo Boss suits and shirts. The Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) native, who arrived in this country two months ago, said that he normally hands out his flyers on Lexington Avenue, but that his boss had suggested he plant himself on Park Avenue because few men-be they billionaires or bomb-throwing anarchists-can pass up a deal on a well-made suit.

Mr. Korgo, who speaks only French, admitted that while his flyers had managed to drum up some interest among the cops bouncing from foot to foot trying to stay warm in the chilly drizzle, he’d had less luck enticing the likes of Bill Gates or Arik Sharon to visit his employer’s showroom on East 59th Street.

Indeed, one might even consider Mr. Korgo himself a victim of the globalization that the protesters had gathered to condemn. He said he was getting paid only $5 an hour, or $4.50 after taxes. But the low wages had done little to quash his entrepreneurial zeal. He said that he’d been a Wrangler jeans salesman back home and, if this reporter understood him correctly, hoped eventually to establish some sort of jeans export business here in the U.S. To that end, he inquired about any possible employment opportunities and-in a sign that he’s destined for success-shook down the reporter for his phone number.