New York – A pro-Israel congressman in New York City was arrested on Friday for carrying a handgun to a pro-Palestinian student demonstration.
In photos and videos, Republican City Council member Inna Vernikov was seen with a handgun protruding from her waistband while attending a student protest at Brooklyn College, according to the NYPD gun butt.
She turned herself in Friday morning, was charged with weapons possession and was later released.
Vernikov obtained a permit to carry a concealed weapon last month and she surrendered the gun after her arrest, police said.
Under New York law, gun owners are prohibited from bringing weapons to certain sensitive locations, including protests and school grounds. The state requires holders of handgun licenses not to carry handguns to keep them out of public view.
Vernikov did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Calls to her Brooklyn office were not answered Friday. There was no immediate response to a message left at her Manhattan City Council office.
City Council Speaker Adrian Adams called Vernikov’s behavior “unacceptable and illegal” in a statement, adding that she had referred the matter to ethics authorities.
New York City’s public university system has seen a wave of violent protests in recent days following Hamas attacks on Israel and an escalation of the war in Gaza.
Top elected officials, including the mayor of New York and New York Governor Kathy Hochul, condemned the pro-Palestinian demonstrations and called them a celebration of Hamas.
The heightened tensions also coincided with attacks, including at least two on people holding Palestinian flags, according to New York police. A separate investigation has opened into two young boys who allegedly pointed fake guns at a Brooklyn synagogue.
Vernikov, who is Jewish and grew up in Ukraine, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of Palestinian activists, describing protesters as “terrorists” while accusing them of making Jewish students feel unsafe.
Nerdeen Kiswani, a Palestinian activist and CUNY School of Law graduate, said the council members’ actions were an extension of citywide rhetoric that dehumanizes Palestinian concerns and silences dissent.
“She falsely accused us of anti-Semitism and then showed up at a rally brandishing a gun,” Kiswana added. “Who is it that makes us unsafe?”
Vernikov must return to court later.