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One Easy Trick to Brandish a Gun at a Protest, Get Away With It, and Keep Your City Council Job

New York City's savviest MAGA councilmember also happens to be real close to City Hall, and other links to start your day.

(CUNY Students for Justice in Palestine Twitter account)

In October, Brooklyn Councilmember Inna Vernikov claimed that she was protecting students on campus when she showed off a holstered gun at a protest organized by Students for Justice in Palestine outside Brooklyn College (which Vernikov described as a "pro-Hamas" gathering). Vernikov, who had a license to carry a firearm, was still apparently not on the right side of the law, as the state legislature recently made it illegal to bring a gun to a "sensitive location," including protests and college campuses. Early the next morning, the NYPD arrested and charged Vernikov under that new state law. Even Governor Kathy Hochul, a vocal supporter of Israel who has been mostly quiet about Palestinian New Yorkers, stated that Vernikov had crossed a line.

And yet!

On Friday, the CITY reported that the charges against Vernikov would be dropped by the Brooklyn district attorney's office. Why? Because the gun handed over by Vernikov to the police was deemed "inoperable." Turns out that when officers had gone to her home to seize the gun hours after the protest, Vernikov had denied them entry without a warrant. Vernikov eventually handed over the gun and turned herself in. But by then (and perhaps, always?) the gun was missing a valuable part—the recoil spring assembly—meaning the weapon wasn't technically at threat of being used. 

"In order to sustain this charge, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the weapon in question was capable of firing bullets. Absent such proof, we have no choice but to dismiss these charges," Brooklyn DA spokesperson Oren Yaniv told the CITY. 

This all raises serious questions: Why would the NYPD show up at someone's house to seize a gun without a warrant? Why didn't the cops arrest Vernikov at the protest itself? Does Vernikov usually carry an inoperable gun for protection?

Vernikov, despite being a pro-Trump, reactionary, Republican councilmember, is quite close with the Adams administration. Just a few days after bringing her gun to the rally, Vernikov had tea and posed for a selfie with Adams's top advisor, Ingrid Lewis-Martin. On top of that, in this criminal case, Vernikov is represented by Brooklyn lawyer Arthur Aidala, a longtime associate of former City Hall chief of staff Frank Carone, and lawyer for Harvey Weinstein during his sexual assault case in Manhattan. (During Vernikov's arraignment, Aidala himself floated the idea that Vernikov's gun might be inoperable.) According to his public schedule, Adams has appeared at least two times on Aidala's radio show, the "Arthur Aidala Power Hour," while mayor. 

During an October 2022 appearance, Aidala referred to Carone as a "dear friend" and then grilled Adams on the proliferation of guns on city streets, and the need to crack down on them, asking him if he would ever pressure district attorneys to help take guns off the street. 

"Bloomberg really put the arm on them saying we need to keep the guns off the street and the guys who have the guns and they can't get back out onto the street," Aidala said. "Does Mayor Eric Adams have the kind of relationship with the district attorney's offices to work hand in hand with them to really fight these problems?" Adams replied that he was working with the DAs to get guns off the street, but then himself railed against criminal justice reforms and a backlog of cases in the system. 

Apparently, menacing students with a gun at a protest wasn't the type of gun crime they were talking about. 

Some closely associated links to start your day:

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