STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (FinalCall.com)–Ms. Diane Dayson, 49, the first Black woman to hold the job of superintendent of the Statue of Liberty Park and Ellis Island, two of New York City’s most popular tourist attractions, said she and her husband are victims of police racial profiling and possibly police brutality.
She and her husband, Kevin Dayson, 50, are scheduled to appear at Final Call press time in a Staten Island criminal court to face charges leveled at them on Nov. 11.
Park Service spokesman David Barna said Mrs. Dayson is accused of battling a Park Service police officer who was attempting to subdue and arrest her husband after a traffic stop on Veteran’s Day. The incident took place in front of the couple’s home at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island.
Mr. Dayson is charged with assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, obstruction of a government function, driving without a license and not fastening his seatbelt. He faces a maximum jail term of up to seven years if convicted. Mrs. Dayson faces a year in jail.
Mr. Barna said that Mrs. Dayson, who became head of the Liberty and Ellis Islands seven years ago, has voluntarily placed herself on leave from her $80,000-a-year job until the matter is settled. The mother of two manages a staff of 500 and controls a $12 million budget.
Observers say the traffic stop was racially motivated. A police source told reporters that Officer David Moen had run-ins with Mr. Dayson on several occasions. The Daysons’ attorney, Miranda Fritz of Manhattan, indicated in earlier reports that counter charges against the police may be filed because of the “racial overtones” of the arrest.
In a prepared statement, the attorney said that Mr. Dayson was hit with a nightstick and pepper- sprayed.
Supporters of officer Moen said it was a routine stop based on the common knowledge that Mr. Dayson had no license and drove his wife to work every day. They say the officer was attacked by Mrs. Dayson’s pit-bull and his radio was knocked from his hands.
The Park Police, on the other hand, have come under scrutiny in recent months. A Nov. 4 New York Times article said a federal audit report released in early 2002 described the department, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, as ill-trained, poorly managed, dysfunctional and, in some instances, corrupt.