Upper West Sider Testifies About Being Arrested on His Stoop After Curfew

Attorney General Letitia James asked for testimony last week about the police response to demonstrations in New York. NY1 gathered some of that testimony, including this account by Matthew Ghering, who was arrested on his stoop on the Upper West Side. Ghering is married to Shaina Taub, who filmed part of the arrest.

James said she invited the mayor and NYPD officials to offer their side but they did not take her up on it.

Matthew Ghering

Thursday evening, June 4, Upper West Side, Manhattan

“I was arrested on my own property. Near 8 p.m., I was witness to six kettled protesters being confronted by nearly 60 police officers across my street of Central Park West. As I stood on my own front steps, I was told I was being arrested for being outside past curfew… I was thrown over the railing of my steps and handcuffed using two pairs of riot cuffs even though I did not resist arrest…

I was stripped of my keys, wallet, and cellphone. Then, a white-shirted police officer shoved me when I tried to find his badge number. I was detained in a police van alongside my wife who was told to ‘deal with it, snowflake,’ by her arresting officer, and a delivery bike rider who was an essential worker on delivery at the time. Not a single member of the police force was wearing a mask, as you can see from the video. Only after detention in a small police van with eight others, being walked to the station by unmasked police officers and being placed in a cell with others, I was then offered a squirt of hand sanitizer. Then, I was placed in a more confined cell with 15 men with no provided PPE upon entry. Obviously, these are unsafe and unsanitary conditions during a global pandemic. I hope the violation of my first and fourth amendment rights have opened up people’s ears for me to say that I’m lucky. I’m a privileged and lucky white man who is not concerned with my police encounter. The same cannot be said for people like Eric Garner.”

NEWS | 38 comments | permalink
    1. Bob Lamm says:

      Thanks to Mr. Ghering for sharing this distressing story, to Attorney General James for asking for testimony, for NY1 for gathering the testimony, and to the West Side Rag for publishing it. I guess I’m also a “snowflake” since I believe this arrest was outrageous and the same for the terrible treatment of Mr. Ghering and others who were arrested. In solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters.

    2. Chris says:

      So you are above the law?
      Or do you just obey the laws you agree with?
      You had PPE on when arrested.
      Also I see you are calling yourself privileged because you are white. White does not make one privileged. I grew up in the projects in a single parent home and had to make my own way out of poverty. I am a non-privileged white person, color does not make one privileged your situation does.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        “I’m a privileged and lucky white man” is the new opiate of the masses. Marxist claptrap.

      • Kat French says:

        Chris, don’t attack your allies. He is trying to help and was clearly expressing empathy for people of color in a similar situation.

      • EdNY says:

        What law was he breaking? He was on his own property.

      • Carol says:

        Agreed, Chris. I actually had someone once say to me, “to have your backstory, being a white girl with straight hair”. I was grateful for the directness, it cleared up a lot of things for me. Individual people and situations are different and cannot be assumed. Doesn’t matter who the assumptions are toward, they aren’t ok.

      • Chester says:

        Chris, “privilege” in the term “white privilege” doesn’t refer to money or riches. It means that those of us with white skin have certain privileges that people of color do not. It’s a common mistake people make when they hear the term “white privilege.” Here’s a great article that provides an explanation of what the term really means.
        https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2018/what-is-white-privilege-really

        • Jocelyn says:

          And Chris, color absolutely makes one privileged. Your situation may contribute to or enhance your privilege, but skin color by itself is a major driver.

        • Bob says:

          Growing up, I could see that white people and black people were treated differently. But as I was in the rural south, I was given a ready explanation for why: White people were superior to black people. It wasn’t that white people were privileged by their whiteness, we were just “better.”

          There’s no denying that white people and black people are treated differently; even as a child I could see that. So when you reject the idea that being white comes with privilege, you accept the alternative explanation pushed on me as a kid: White supremacy.

          And I don’t think I’m allowed to use the word that accurately describes that alternative explanation, but it starts with a bull and ends with the other end of that bull.

      • Bob says:

        Chris, do you really not understand that the curfew law did not define “in public” to mean “on your own property?” In other words, it wasn’t the arrested gentleman who ignored the law, it was the police. And that, to me, is a far more concerning thing.

        And, yes, you’re privileged. I grew up dirt poor in a rural area, and I was privileged — because I got advantages the black folks who grew up near me simply didn’t. I was poor as roasted dirt, but I’m not dumb enough to think my white skin wasn’t a privilege.

      • lmn says:

        White privilege doesn’t mean your life isn’t without hardships–it means the color of your skin isn’t one of those hardships. No one is saying that because your white, your life is sunshine and roses. All they are saying is you don’t have to be cognizant of your skin color in every situation.

    3. Ellen says:

      The NYPD obviously have too much time on their hands, and poor job-training. They seem to have nothing better to do than arrest a law-abiding man on his own front stoop and then deliberately exposed him to multiple Covid-spreading environments. They are their own poster-boys for defunding the police.

    4. Brian E Kelly says:

      So was this guy about to loot his own home? These cops be desk jobs. Curfew is meant to keep you of the streets and sidewalks to prevent looting.

    5. A says:

      I remember that evening. I too wanted to go outside on my stoop and support the protestors, but I understood that going out there after curfew could have consequences. I say take your punishment like a man and chaulk it up as a lesson.

      • lynn says:

        In any other locale your front porch/stoop/steps would be considered part of your home.

        This was part of an article in the NY Times: “The curfew guidelines focus on public spaces, and the outdoor areas attached to your home are presumably not public spaces.”

        Isn’t a doorway or front stoop technically considered part of your home in NYC? I don’t understand the animosity directed toward this couple.

        • A says:

          Under any other circumstance I could see that argument. But considering what was going on; the number of peaceful protests getting violent; and the ‘temperature’ of the theme . . . It would be reasonable and fair to believe that the curfew was established to maintain order. Whether you were on your front step or stoop. Much of this had to do with common sense. Several exercised none of it.

          • Sarah says:

            Common sense might also tell cops on a very busy night not to waste time and taxpayer resources arresting people for harmlessly standing on their stoop, but clearly someone got their fee-fees hurt because their authoritah was not sufficiently respected.

    6. E Newsome says:

      Seriously, some commenters are beyond comprehension.

      Even if it was past curfew, police should at most give a warning or a ticket. Instead they were heavy handed and vindictive.

      And I love it when other people try to dictate someones lived experience as if it were something more than an uninformed opinion.

      Y’all are embarassing to commonsensical Myers.

    7. Les Blaypool says:

      The police have enough to deal with without some wannabe protestor biting off more than he could chew and then complaining about it. There was a curfew, obey it.

      • Sarah says:

        If the police had so much to deal with, they could’ve walked on by. The number of people prostrate to authoritarianism on the Upper West Side is distressing.

    8. Amir Richardson-Bey says:

      I feel for this guy but that’s the nature of the beast living in New York, been here all my life, grew up and lived in some of the worst neighborhoods I’m now 51 and it seems to me police these days not all of them are true thugs and animals. As far him saying he’s white and priveleged his business not mine none of that concerns me because it’s obvious that didn’t matter at that moment, welcome to the real world my man where the cops in New York when given the authority Will crack skulls, hide badges and talk crap no matter who you are, yeah lucky you… Give me a break.

    9. Jerry says:

      Several of the commenters here seem to be completely clueless about how law enforcement works. Many, many situations require the exercise of judgement by the police. Not every instance of jay walking, for example, or of speeding so much as 1 mph or more over a posted speed limit, to cite another very simple and obvious example, require police to invoke the strictest possible interpretation of the law! Police make countless judgement decisions every single day as to whether to issue a summons, a verbal or written warning or formal arrest. It’s thoroughly absurd and wrongheaded to maintain that every single, solitary instance where there may possibly be a technical violation of the law mandates or justifies law enforcement taking the harshest possible action. The recent nighttime curfews in NYC
      are excellent examples, as they were specifically designed to stop looting and public pronouncements from public officials about the curfew enforcement specifically stated that peaceful protesters were not the target and that the curfews would not be enforced in a heavy-handed manner. In that light, many, many peaceful protesters who continued to protest after curfew were ignored and/or protected by the police; many others were issued a summons but not arrested. Almost all of the peaceful protesters who were arrested had all charges against them dismissed by prosecutors, largely due to the questionable nature of the arrests. So, even if generally speaking you consider yourself an avid supporter of police, it doesn’t take much in the way of critical thinking skills to see that arresting a peaceful protester out on their own stoop after curfew is a ridiculous exercise of police power, and further that the way the police treated these particular individuals as described in this article was completely unnecessary, not to mention punitive, vindictive, mean-spirited, spiteful and, yes, political. That type of police activity is antithetical to our country’s values and engenders antipathy toward police. It’s extremely regrettable that some commenters here are evidently blind to such obvious observations and conclusions.

    10. nycityny says:

      So rogue cops were upset that so many people were protesting rogue cops. They decide to take it out on a couple by arresting them at their home, charging them with not being at their home.

      The people on this board defending the rogue cops are the same folks who claim their personal freedom to ignore mandates on mask-wearing, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders implemented to fight a pandemic. They ignore those laws but insist that this couple obey the curfew law, which itself restricted freedom and 1st amendment expression. The fact that the couple did obey it by being at home when they were arrested is just additional irony, added to so much hypocrisy.

    11. D says:

      When is 82nd street returning to normal? The cops have the sidewalk blocked off and they are parking on the sidewalk. Their bunker mentality makes them look like cowards and puts people in an antagonistic mood.

    12. Abdul Sayeed says:

      Start all over. Raise the starting salaries for police officers enormously. Require them to live in the neighborhoods they serve for their first five years of service. Too many live in the suburbs and have no connection with the cities they serve — the root of so many problems.
      They are outsiders and they feel it. The line between a professional force and an invading army has been too frequently crossed.

    13. Meebs says:

      Cool so for everyone saying “he broke the rules”, could you please put on a mask? And if you don’t want to wear one because it’s “uncomfortable”, I suggest you revisit your snowflake comment. If I can run in a mask, you can wear one for 30 minutes. And if you can’t because of health problems, you should really stay inside because Covid is coming for you and the heath care workers may say “man this person is a jerk!”.

    14. CathyS says:

      Fact: a curfew applies to public spaces. Anyone on their own premises–y’know, like a stoop on your own building–is not violating curfew. Full stop. If you disagree, then you disagree with the law of the land.

    15. Elaine Toth says:

      Maybe he deserved it…
      Ever think about that?
      He is telling you a one sided story…

      • Rachel Golden says:

        “Maybe he deserved it?”

        Why? No reason, just because. Don’t think I heard bigger B.S. in my life. Arrested for not breaking the law?

        Well maybe this Karen deserves to be arrested and exposed to Covid risk as well. Or sent to Florida. For the same non-reasons.

    16. James Cassidy says:

      Common sense tells me if the street is being cleared I ought just step inside my door.

    17. Eric says:

      The video is disturbing on a number of levels but one of them is the group of people shouting at the cops. Here’s the thing – backtalking, shouting at, or resisting a police officer NEVER makes things better. It NEVER succeeds, it NEVER has and it NEVER will. In fact those behaviors – while emotional and natural and understandable – almost ALWAYS worsens the way it’s going to go down and really make things bad when done by a group of ANY makeup.

      Here’s a tip – a cop tells you to do something say “yes, officer” and comply. Once the officer issues an instruction, anything after that – you being wrong, the police being wrong, the situation being a misunderstanding – is for the lawyers and courts to hash out.

      These encounters cannot by their nature be nuanced dialogues. They are scripted. Officer encounters you, questions you, instructs you. Your role is compliance (followed by a day in court if needed). I am not a cop but was taught this growing up and it has worked EVERY time.

      • Sarah says:

        “Your role is compliance.” Good God. Are you a citizen in a free country, or not?

        • Eric says:

          Sarah, why do you respond with such incredulity?
          We are both citizens in a free country. A free country of laws and courts and due process.
          I hope that you are not arguing that every citizen do completely as they wish, making up their own rules with no adherence to laws or their enforcement. That would not be a civilized society but something closer to anarchy.

          My point was one of simple practicality. Push back all you like but you are NOT free to resist arrest and when an officer approaches you they are not there to debate the situation with you. That is not their function and resisting them or interfering with them will only make a difficult encounter more difficult for both of you. If you’re hell-bent on putting up a verbal or physical fight go right ahead, it will not change the outcome one bit. And if you feel you’ve been wronged by all means get a lawyer to prove you right in court. That is what we are supposed to be guaranteed as free citizens in this country.

          • Sarah says:

            There is no law requiring you to shine the boots, so to speak, of every police officer who approaches you. Maybe you’re eager to get down on your knees for every cop who comes along, but that’s not suitable behavior for a citizen of a free country. That doesn’t make you a lawbreaker–it just makes you someone with rights in a civilized society.

            • Eric says:

              “There is no law requiring you to shine the boots, so to speak, of every police officer who approaches you” Well, I cannot speak to the shining of boots but actually there are at least TWO laws requiring you to do as the officer requires.

              N.Y. Penal Law Section 205.30 – Resisting arrest
              A person is guilty of resisting arrest when he intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a police officer or peace officer from effecting an authorized arrest of himself or another person. Resisting arrest is a class A misdemeanor.

              … and even for something as simple as a traffic stop …

              Section 1102 – Obedience to police officers and flagpersons
              No person shall fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer or flagperson or other person duly empowered to regulate traffic.

              I know that I am not going to convince you so by all means make your stand and take your consequences. If you feel that by pushing back you are winning some civil or moral victory then bravo for sticking to your principles. But obeying the lawful order of a police officer is TOTALLY “suitable behavior for a citizen of a free country” and we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I might even post your bail.

    18. Boris says:

      It’s both humorous and frustrating to see how many armchair lawyers here have ruled on the legality of enforcing curfew laws for people on their stoop. I haven’t seen one person properly defend their position that a stoop is private property exempt from law enforcement.

      One would have to understand the legal principle of Curtilage before making such assumptions. One of the most basic elements of curtilage is whether the property is enclosed and the owner has a reasonable expectation of privacy. So you can’t just do things outside on your stoop that would be protected behavior if you’re inside your home. Your sitting on your stoop does not grant you a pass from complying with laws.