RIDGEWOOD, NJ — An arrest that shocked everyone in the town of Ridgewood. 22-year-old Thria Bernabe was placed in handcuffs while leading a Black Lives Movement protest on July 4.
“The reason for the arrest was to intimidate them, and to get them to stop protesting in the middle of town. That’s the reason they arrested her, there’s not a legal reason for it,” said her lawyer, Gregory Jacht.
Ridgewood police said Bernabe was charged with obstructing the road.
In a statement to reporters, the police said that Bernabe “walked into the street, directly into the path of a vehicle.”
In this video shared with ABS CBN News, Bernabe is seen using the crosswalk before briefly stepping into the street. She was apprehended almost immediately after.
Bernabe told ABS CBN News she was trying move out of the way from a car turning the corner.
“What’s important to note about this is the chief of police who came out there and ordered for her to be arrested, ordered her civil rights, her constitutional rights to be violated. If this order comes down from the top, then that’s great evidence that there’s a systematic problem with squashing people’s constitutional rights in Ridgewood.”
Bernabe’s lawyer is calling for an investigation into the matter.
The nursing student was held for several hours, fingerprinted and photographed for a petty charge that usually results in a ticket.
“I think a lot of the high school students who were there, I’m afraid that they’re now afraid to speak out and use their voice. And that’s awful. It’s sad that this had to happen.”
Bernabe, a nursing school graduate, helped organized the protest in her town to raise awareness against racial injustice.
“I do feel that there is now a new fear if I’ll even protest, then I could be put in danger.”
But she said she’s putting that fear aside — especially after what she experienced during her arrest.
“They perceive me as this light skinned Filipino girl who you know who is smart, and prepared compared to the people that they processed which then tells me that I have to keep fighting because that’s exactly the reason why. If I were a few shades darker, if I lived in a different town, I would not have been treated the same way, and that’s why I’m gonna keep fighting.”
Bernabe is scheduled to appear in municipal court on July 23.