What was supposed to be a week of celebration for hip-hop group Smif-N-Wessun and veteran producer Pete Rock turned violently wrong on Tuesday after cops busted up their Monumental album-release party in New York City.
Concertgoers were attacked by cops, and for Rock, the drama hit especially close to home as police struck his wife and stepdaughter, he told MTV News on Thursday (June 30).
"We were coming out and someone was screaming, 'Yo, Pete, your wife, your wife.' So I ran out to make sure they were OK and to make sure the cop would stop hitting them," the Mount Vernon, New York, hitmaker told MTV News. "My stepdaughter said the cop was hitting her leg and she jumped in the way for her mother, which is my wife, to take the hits. And then my cameraman tried to jump in front of her, to take her hits. The cop was going bananas."
A press release issued Thursday by the group stated that 30 minutes after "a minor argument" that "eventually was defused by the bouncers," approximately 15 to 20 uniformed police officers from the 7th Precinct in downtown Manhattan arrived at Tammany Hall. "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," the press release said.
The group's attorney, Kenneth Montgomery, who was present at the concert, said the police "behavior was unjustified, unprovoked, and simply barbaric considering there was no provocation."
When MTV News reached out to the NYPD for comment, we received this statement from Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly: "Police officers had every right to defend themselves against individuals assaulting them, and used appropriate force in doing so. They also protected civilians who were being pelted with bottles at the outset, as they responded to the location at the request of the club's own security."
Various portions of the incident were captured on film by bystanders, who recorded the melee on their cell phones and video cameras and uploaded footage to YouTube and other social-networking sites.
Tek and Steele (the two members of Smif-N-Wessun) and Rock weren't harmed physically, but for the producer, who witnessed his wife and stepdaughter being assaulted by police, it was difficult to exercise restraint. "I have to say that I'm very proud of myself that I held every bit of anger I had inside when that was happening," he said. "I'm very proud of myself."