New York State Sen. Zellnor Myrie had been peacefully protesting with a crowd in Brooklyn when he was handcuffed and pepper sprayed by police, he told CNN late Monday night.
"I am from Brooklyn. I happen to represent a huge swath of central Brooklyn and when I heard there was a group of folks protesting police brutality I decided to make my way down," he said.
He wanted to join not only to show solidarity -- but also potentially act as a liaison between protesters and law enforcement, given his position as an elected official, he said.
Once he arrived, he alerted police of his presence, and wore a neon green shirt with his name and title on it. But still, he got caught up in escalating scuffles, he said.
"As I was obeying orders, they were telling us to back up, I was backing up. Trying to protect some of the protesters behind me. Being compliant. I started getting hit in my back by bicycles wielded by the police officers. I was pushed. I was shoved. Ultimately pepper-sprayed, and subsequently handcuffed. Simply because I was there to forcefully protest," he told CNN.
He said it took a little while for law enforcement to realize who he was -- and he was finally released and given medical attention.
But this treatment was "only because of my title," he said. "Had I not had the luxury of my title, I would have been in the system and processed, much like any of the other protesters."