Village Voice

Claimin’ I’m A Criminal: Reports From Tuesday Night’s Melee At The Pete Rock/Smif-N-Wessun Show

By J. Pablo Fri., Jul. 1 2011 at 2:45 PM

Sirens are forever wailing around town, but the sirens I heard as I walked down Houston Street Tuesday night sounded extra-menacing. And judging by the sheer number of squad cars flying past me, and the intensity with which they ran red lights and drove against traffic up Orchard Street, it was evident something bad was about to transpire.

Shortly after midnight, a gang (and I use that in a very literal sense) of New York Police Department officers rushed Tammany Hall on Orchard Street, interrupting a peaceful Pete Rock/Smif n Wessun event.

Witnesses say the attack by police was unprovoked. Several onlookers captured much of the chaos on camera; judging from the footage, the police were the aggressors.

Officers from the Seventh Precinct gathered outside the popular spot, then pushed their way into the venue. After arresting Louis Pena, a rapper by the name of Louie Skaggs, on stage, they proceeded to shove, mace, and club partygoers and bystanders, according to witnesses. (Read the Post‘s account here.)

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Pete Rock and Smif N Wessun Released A Joint Statement

“On Tuesday, June 28th, Pete Rock, Tek & Steele (of Smif N Wessun) were celebrating the release of their collaborative album, Monumental. It was a peaceful gathering inside of a sold-out Tammany Hall (lower-east side Manhattan, NY) to see the group perform new music from the project. Earlier in the evening some guests wanted to enter the event but were turned away by the management and bouncers employed by the club. A minor argument ensued, but eventually was diffused by the bouncers. Thirty minutes after that minor skirmish 15-20 uniformed Police Officers from the Seventh Precinct arrived at the venue. Shortly after even more uniformed officers arrived. The officers then hurried into the club and began macing and assaulting individuals inside the club, dragging one of them out and pummeling him directly in front of the club. Present at the event were artists, industry tastemakers, fans, photographers, and cameramen. Several people began filming and recording the unprovoked brutality, much to the dismay of the police. The officers then began to mace and assault anyone within arms length, including several women. Kenneth Montgomery, the group’s attorney, who was in attendance at the event, stated that the Police ‘behavior was unjustified, unprovoked, and simply barbaric considering there was no provocation.’ Pete Rock, Tek and Steele fortunately were not harmed, however some of their friends & family were assaulted by the Police. The group’s attorney, Kenneth Montgomery, is addressing the situation now with local community leaders & is available for comment with more detailed information.”

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