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A decade-old arrest of Councilman Jumaane Williams has surfaced in the final stretch of the New York City's public advocate's race, had already been an unpredictable contest as his rivals demanded more information just before the polls were set to open on Tuesday.
Mr. Williams, 42, on Monday acknowledged that he had been arrested a decade ago on harassment and criminal mischief charges and spent a night in custody after what he called a "verbal disagreement" with his girlfriend at the time. Charges were dropped and the arrest record itself is sealed.
female rivals used the last-minute revelation of the arrest to raise questions about Mr. Williams’s fitness for the position. Another City Council member, ally of Mr. Williams, called for an investigation into what had been a closed arrest record.
Williams' girlfriend at the time called the police on the evening of Jan. 9, 2009, after a dispute with Mr. Williams that included him throwing items at here, putting her in fear for her safety.
A chair, a wall and a Christmas ornament were damaged but the damages did not exceed $ 250 in value. There were no injuries, and Mr. Williams was arrested.
In an interview on Monday, Mr. Williams said the events leading up to the 2009 arrest began as an argument, but he didn't recall what it was about. During the argument, Mr. Williams said that he threw his girlfriend's purse on the floor and left the apartment to get food for both.
“I went to a turn and left a chair on the chair hit the wall and a snow globe fell from a half shelf, ”he added. Mr. Williams said he did not intentionally damage the chair or the snow globe.
After returning from getting food, Mr. Williams said that he was surprised to see police officers at his home. "They told me to turn around and put your hands behind your back," he said. He said he did not know who had called the police.
A police official said that arrests are mandated in domestic violence cases where there is probable cause. Mr. Williams said he was not formally charged with anything and returned to court one more time in the matter. During that appearance, the judge dismissed the case and sealed the records.
Mr. Williams's ex-girlfriend, whom The New York Times is not identifying because she was an alleged victim in a possible abuse case, declined to comment. She had been with Mr. Williams for five years at the time of the arrest
Campaigning in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a day after news of his arrest became public in The New York Daily News on Sunday, Mr. Williams said, "I wonder why something that was dismissed and sealed, why that would be leaked?"
Mr. Williams said the incident was being used for perpetuate stereotypes about black men.
"There is a tendency to talk about black men in this way as angry. There is a tendency to use things like this to inform. It's a thing, ”Mr. Williams said.
He also criticized Melissa Mark-Viverito, a former City Council speaker, and Nomiki Konst, a progressive activist, for holding a joint news conference to call attention to the arrest.
it is for 'black man syndrome' to take hold, ”Mr. Williams said. “I wish they would be more responsible. If you want to have this discussion, there is a better way. ”
MS. Mark-Viverito and Ms. Art, who have sparred aggressively with each other to debate, joined together to call for more information from Mr. Williams.
Ms. Mark-Viverito said she was "deeply concerned" by the arrest report. "Let's not forget," she said pointedly, "this public advocate's race began because of violence against women."
It is true that the February special election is due to the previous public advocate, Letitia James, left the office after she was elected New York State Attorney General. And that office only became open last year because the form of attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, resigned in succession following accusations that had physically assaulted multiple women.
on Monday called for Mr. Williams or his lawyer to release his sealed arrest record, even as she said, "The timing of this report raises red flags given the election tomorrow."
Laurie A. Cumbo , to send a letter to the Police Department's inspector general's office requesting that the leak be investigated for violations of police and city policies.
Mr. Williams’s supporters continued to stand on the eve of the election.
"We've been transparent. It was a learning experience, it was a long time ago and no one got hurt, ”said Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, who endorsed Mr. Williams. "This is not a #MeToo situation."