New York City Council Member Inna Vernikov was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a firearm early Friday morning after she showed up to counterprotest a pro-Palestine rally outside Brooklyn College packing heat, a New York City Police Department spokesperson confirmed.
Photos and videos taken at the protest show Vernikov, a Republican who recently got a concealed carry license, clearly wearing a pistol on her hip. As City & State previously reported, a New York state law passed last year bans the possession of firearms at protests and rallies – even with a concealed carry permit.
According to the spokesperson, Vernikov turned herself into the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn Thursday night around 2:50 a.m. and was later released. Vernikov could not immediately be reached for comment.
Photos of the council member began circulating on social media after the event, stirring outcry over the presence of the firearm and prompting concerns about its legality.
After Vernikov was arrested, Gov. Kathy Hochul weighed in on social media. “New York’s gun safety laws apply to everyone,” she wrote.
On Friday afternoon, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams announced that she had referred the matter to the Council’s ethics committee. The ethics committee consists of Council Members Vernikov (who will obviously recuse herself), Yeger (the committee chair, who may recuse himself since he was also at the rally with Vernikov), Carlina Rivera, Eric Dinowitz and Crystal Hudson.
“It is unacceptable and unlawful for a civilian to ever bring a firearm to a rally or protest, and especially important for elected officials to model a respect for the law that is expected of all New Yorkers,” she said in a statement. “It is the responsibility of the NYPD and the Brooklyn District Attorney to enforce the law in what is a criminal matter, and the Council will respect that process. The Council is investigating the impact of Council Member Vernikov's actions and the disposition within the legal process on her participation in the body. I am referring this matter to the Standards and Ethics Committee, which may require the recusal of committee members.”
This is a developing story and was last updated at 1 p.m on Oct. 13, 2013.
– with reporting by Ralph R. Ortega.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated who was on the City Council ethics committee.