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Local NAACP seeks review of controversial arrest of Amherst man; says video of incident raises 'deep concern'

Jonas Correia was arrested about 1:35 a.m. Sunday on Pleasant Street after police allege he attempted to assault a bouncer and fled from police who intervened.

Correia, 26, of 12A Longmeadow Drive, was pepper-sprayed, tackled to the ground and handcuffed by Northampton police outside of Tully O’Reilly’s Pub and was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said in a statement Wednesday that it is “calling on the Northampton Police Department and Northwest district attorney’s office to review the confrontation and arrest.”

In a statement Tuesday, Mayor David Narkewicz said, “the events in question are still the subject of an ongoing police investigation.”

A representative of the district attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.

“One of the key objectives of the NAACP is the elimination of racial discrimination. What was captured on the video raises deep concern about the way he was treated,” the NAACP statement reads.

Kathleen Anderson, president of the Amherst branch of the NAACP, could not be reached for comment.

On the five-minute video, which had been viewed more than 62,000 times as of Thursday evening, people on the sidewalk can be heard insisting Correia did nothing wrong and shouting accusations of racism toward police.

Correia pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday in Northampton District Court and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court May 16.

He will be represented by local defense attorney Luke Ryan with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The director of the local ACLU office, William Newman, said Wednesday he believes the charges against Correia are unfounded and that he will be exonerated.

The NAACP statement goes on to say Correia is “a member of the Amherst community and faces charges that can carry imprisonment of up to two and a half years. The leadership committee of the local branch will continue to meet to discuss how to further support Correia.”

While the NAACP statement acknowledged there are “many dedicated law enforcement officials who serve selflessly every day,” it added, “unfortunately, in too many instances there still remains a need for better training on how to handle confrontations safely, while protecting individuals’ civil rights.”

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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