(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is defending the New York Police Department's response to a pro-Palestinian demonstration where officers were seen on video allegedly punching and kicking protesters, accused of resisting arrest.

The demonstrations in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Palestinian population over the weekend were meant to commemorate the Nakba, a Palestinian flight and expulsion before and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. NYPD officers responded to 911 calls about the protests and arrested about 40 people.

The incident prompted a backlash from progressive Democrats who accused the NYPD of heavy-handed tactics to break up the demonstration.

"There has been a Nakba Day demonstration here every year for the past decade without incident," New York City Councilman Justin Brannan posted on X, formerly Twitter. "I saw no evidence of actions by protestors today that warranted such an aggressive response from the NYPD."

But Adams is defending NYPD's response and said the demonstrations went beyond what would be covered by the First Amendment by destroying property and throwing bottles and other projectiles at responding police officers.

"What you don’t have the right to do is ride on top of buses. You don’t have a right to spit in the faces of police officers, to destroy property, to resist arrest," Adams, a retired NYPD captain, said in a radio interview. "Those police officers did a commendable job under very difficult circumstances."

The NYPD released a video showing protesters throwing empty water bottles at officers and lighting flares. One protester appeared to be sitting atop a moving MTA bus, waving a Palestinian flag.

"We will not accept the narrative that persons arrested were victims, nor are we going to allow illegal behavior," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said in a statement.

Daughtry said of the 41 protestors arrested, 36 were not from the Brooklyn neighborhood, and about one-third had previous arrests for "non-peaceful" demonstrations.

"We will never tolerate any unlawful, illegal, and non-peaceful protests," he said. "NYC residents demand peace and reject unlawful behavior in any form."

Jumaane Williams, the city's public advocate, took to social media to blast the NYPD's response and Adams, whom he suggested "refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian pain."

"It is disheartening, shameful, and dangerous," Williams posted on X. "Yes, NYPD and individual officers should be held accountable, however the truth is this Mayor holds the ultimate responsibility for not just allowing but encouraging; almost insisting that the response for anything Palestinian be escalation and disproportionate force."

But Adams called the images of police officers punching and kicking protestors on the ground an "isolated incident" and said the city is investigating the response.

"People want to take that one isolated incident that we’re investigating," he said in remarks. "They need to look at the totality of what happened."

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