Recent arrests during increasingly contentious protests have led to calls for the Ithaca Police Department deputy chief to resign.
Nearly 1,500 people have signed an online petition demanding that Deputy Chief Vincent Monticello resign, as of Sunday evening. The petition follows Monticello’s arrests of several counterprotesters during and after a graffiti cleaning event held by Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y).
In video footage of the arrest, Monticello arrests Massia White-Saunders, a Black protester, on the grounds of “obstruction.” But protesters dispute this, saying that a white Trump supporter had threatened White-Saunders with a knife first.
The footage shows White-Saunders explaining to Monticello that he had a knife pulled on him, while the Trump supporter says to White-Saunders, “Would you just die already, could you fucking die, just die, kill yourself, get out of here.”
Monticello then tells White-Saunders and another counterprotester, “You’re the ones agitating this stuff,” before arresting White-Saunders.
After White-Saunders’s arrest, protesters gathered on Oct. 22 outside the Ithaca Police Station to demand his release. There, IPD officers arrested counterprotesters, including Ithaca resident and local advocate Genevieve Rand.
Monticello arrested Rand for obstruction of governmental administration, after she stood in front of a police car with its siren on, responding to a shots fired call. During the arrest, Monticello repeatedly misgendered Rand, according to the video footage.
After Rand’s arrest, more protesters arrived at the police headquarters, and subsequently six other arrests were made. Officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowds after deeming the protest an “unlawful assembly.”
Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 addressed the calls to investigate Monticello on his Facebook page, stating that the New York State Division of Human Rights and the state attorney general are investigating the incidents. The independent Community Police Board is also reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses from Oct. 22 to make a recommendation to Myrick.
Myrick said he will withhold his judgement until the investigation is complete.
Petition organizer Colton Bready, who did not attend the protest, said he watched the arrests over video — prompting the petition against Monticello.
“This is not someone who deserves to have a job in our police station,” Bready said. “He has preferential treatment from those who support him no matter how he does his work.”
Bready also accused Monticello of being racist and transphobic — pointing to his decision to arrest White-Saunders, but not the Trump supporter, as well as his misgendering of Rand.
“I had heard about racist police officers in the town, and [Monticello] is the one allowing the racist policing in town that I know about,” Bready said. “He knew [Rand] was a woman and he refused to address her based on her correct pronouns, so clearly we have someone high up in the police department who’s being openly transphobic on camera.”
Change.org removed public comments from the petition as they were becoming “too personal and raw,” according to Bready. Many of the comments were emotional testimonies from Ithacans describing what they see as past racist IPD incidents.
Ithaca residents, in a letter demanding to defund the police, said the killings of Shawn Greenwood and Keith Shumway by IPD officers in 2010 and 2011 were a few of the many racial injustices they say IPD has committed.
Ithaca resident Melanie Marsh, among many others, expressed grievances toward Monticello during the Oct. 31 Common Council meeting.
“IPD will also be saving a lot of money if they get rid of deputy chief Monticello who is a racist transphobic scum of a human being,” Marsh said.
Bready, as of Oct. 29, said he planned to deliver the official petition letter to city officials — none of whom have publicly commented.
“I’m waiting for people to join me to hand it in to show community,” Bready said. “At this point it’s too much, one person, who has many reported incidents, is getting too much support from the office.”