Human rights lawyer arrested while waiting for her family in Times Square

Chaumtoli Huq believes she was targeted because she is Muslim and South Asian

Published September 4, 2014 8:21PM (EDT)

               (<a href='url to photographer'>Carl Ballou</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Carl Ballou via Shutterstock)

Chaumtoli Huq, 42-year-old human rights lawyer and former top attorney for New York City's Public Advocate Letitia James, was recently stopped and arrested by police while waiting for her two children, in the latest example of overzealous policing.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by DNAInfo, Huq was standing outside of a Ruby Tuesday in Times Square following a pro-Palestinian rally as her husband and children went inside to use the bathroom. Police officers told her to continue moving, but she refused saying, "I'm not in anybody's way. Why do I have to move? What's the problem?"

At that point the officers pressed her against the wall of the restaurant.

DNAInfo reports:

"At that point I didn't know what was happening. I was just thinking, 'What's going on?' and all of a sudden the officer flips me [around]... he [turns] my body and presses me against the wall of the restaurant," Huq said. "He shoved my left arm all the way and kept pushing it and handcuffed me. At that point I just like instinctively yelled, 'Help!' because I was alone. I screamed, 'Help!'"...

Huq, who was appointed James' general counsel in December, had just taken a nine-month leave of absence the day before the rally to advocate for improved factory conditions in Bangladesh, she said.

Huq, who has a nose ring and was wearing a traditional Indian tunic and pants on the day of her arrest, said she believes officers targeted her because she is Muslim and South Asian.

She added that officers went through her purse without probable cause before taking her to the Midtown South Precinct -- all while her family was still inside the restaurant.

"I was hesitant to bring a case," Huq said. "My job is to be behind the scenes, and help all New Yorkers." She wants to use her experience to "raise awareness about over policing in communities of color. I want there to be a dialogue on policing and community relations."

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Human Rights Misconduct Police