Gwynne Hogan, THE CITY
City Councilmember Inna Vernikov was arrested after allegedly carrying a gun to a pro-Palestinian rally by the Brooklyn College campus on Thursday afternoon.
The Republican representing Southern Brooklyn turned herself in at the 70th Precinct on Friday morning, accompanied by her lawyer, and was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, an NYPD spokesperson confirmed. She surrendered her gun and gun permit permit at the precinct and was given a desk appearance ticket, the spokesperson said.
Oren Yaniv, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn District attorney confirmed Vernikov is due back in court on Nov. 2, and the charge was related to bringing a firearm near constitutionally protected protests, which doesn’t carry a minimum amount of time spent in jail.
The class E felony can result in up to between one and four years in prison, though that is highly unlikely for a first offense.
Vernikov on Thursday afternoon was one of several counter-protesters at the Midwood college to show their support for Israel and opposition to the students rallying in support of the Palestinians.
In a video she posted at the event, Vernikov called it a “pro-Hamas rally.”
“If you’re here today standing with these people you’re nothing short of a terrorist without the bombs,” she said.
After the event, photos began circulating on social media showing the Council member with what looked like a gun tucked visibly in her waist band.
“These are the tactics of force and intimidation used by zionist groups to silence any support for Palestine,” one student group wrote on Twitter.
While Vernikov has a firearm permit, according to a recent profile in the New York Post, it’s still not legal to carry one to protests or rallies, or on college campuses, which are all considered “sensitive locations” under new legislation passed last year by the state legislature to accommodate a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the city’s more restrictive and long-standing gun laws.
Students had requested to hold the event on campus but it was moved just outside its gates to Bedford Avenue, which President Michelle Anderson noted in a letter to the college is “a space that Brooklyn College does not control.”
Vernkov’s arrest comes as protests and vigils have engulfed New York City. The NYPD has said it’s ramping up security and will be on high alert expecting further demonstrations Friday.
The unrest comes following a massive attack by Hamas on Israeli soil and then days of Israeli aerial strikes on densely populated Gaza, which the group controls. More than 1,300 Israelis and 1,500 Palestinians had been killed in the escalating violence by Friday morning, according to numbers provided by officials in Israel and Gaza.
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