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VIDEO: Spectators Interfering With Police Sparked Passaic Softball Game Melee, Authorities Say

A softball game at a Passaic park escalated into arrests when people interfered with police who were trying to issue summonses to those drinking and smoking there, authorities said.
A softball game at a Passaic park escalated into arrests when people interfered with police who were trying to issue summonses to those drinking and smoking there, authorities said. Video Credit: Edwin Montas

A softball game at a Passaic park escalated into arrests when people interfered with police who were trying to issue summonses to those drinking and smoking there, authorities said.

One of those charged is a Brooklyn man who officers said threw water on them.

Another who was taken into custody told a TV news reporter he believed police overreacted.

No other accounts of the incident were reported by local news media in the wake of the melee.

A review by Daily Voice of police reports and cellphone video shot during the incident tell this story:

Responding to complaints, four members of the Passaic Police Department’s Quality of Life unit went to Pulaski Park on 4th Street at 1:29 p.m. on Aug. 11.

They left after warning participants and spectators about smoking, drinking and urinating in public, the reports filed by the officers involved say.

A new round of complaints sent police back to the park at 4:46 p.m.

Officers said they found members of the group drinking and smoking hookahs, both of which are prohibited in city parks. They began issuing summonses, which apparently angered the crowd.

A video posted by a spectator captures some of the action (see above or click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psVdV2FLi38&t=10s).

Thirty or so players and spectators began surrounding and confronting police, who discharged pepper spray to fend them off, according to the reports.

At least one of the civilians grabbed an officer while he was dealing with another suspect, the reports allege.

That man, Luis Urena of Brooklyn, was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction, according to police, who issued him a summons at the scene.

A relative of his, Victor Urena, also received a summons for the same offenses, according to the reports.

Summonses were issued to others who police said had open containers of alcohol.

Two local men were arrested after police said they became aggressive: 

Melvin Tobias, 27, of Passaic, began yelling at police and was joined by Marvin Tobias, 26, of Garfield, who “approached the officers in a threatening manner,” the reports charge.

As police took both of them into custody, many in the crowd followed them, yelling at the officers.

Then someone threw water on them, the reports say.

Police brought Melvin and Marvin Tobias to headquarters and charged them with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

They also took 27-year-old Yoryi Urena of Brooklyn into custody for throwing the water, the reports say. He was charged with the same offenses as the others.

All were later released pending court hearings.

Melvin Tobias told TV reporters he thought police overreacted.

Mayor Hector Carlos Lora, in turn, said that law enforcement officers “have a responsibility to maintain order."

“There are appropriate ways to express concerns with law enforcement,” Lora said, “but interfering with an officer while they are doing their job is not one of them. Things can go wrong in a split second.

“Respect is a two-way street,” the mayor added. “Our communities must understand that our officers are here to protect and serve, and I support them in their efforts to do their jobs.

“Recreation should be enjoyed by everyone in our parks, but in a responsible manner,” Lora said. “If incidents occurred and police officers did not arrive, the first thing our community would ask is: “Where were the police?”

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