The city’s Law Department yesterday agreed to pay $150,000 to an activist who was kneed in the head by a senior police officer, assistant chief Bruce Smolka, during an antiwar rally in 2003. One reason for the eager settlement appears to be the video of the beating, available on the IWitness site; the victim planned to introduce it as evidence. As it happens, Smolka was also the subject of a 2004 profile by New York’s own Janelle Nanos, then an NYU j-school student.
Nanos’s piece follows Smolka as he organized the police perimeter around the 2004 Republican convention. Even then, Nanos wrote, Smolka was well known and not exactly well liked by political activists; some Websites had his photo up as “someone to watch out for.” Still, he comes across in her report as a classic NYPD lifer, gruff but aware of the limits of his power. “It’s difficult sometimes for younger officers to have to stand there and be verbally abused,” Smolka explains in the piece. “But you have to remain professional at all times.” Seems he sometimes forgot his own advice.
The Perimeter Is Mine [NYU.edu]
Related: City Settles With Protester Who Claimed She Was Kicked [NYT]