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“Go work in Harlem:” Car driven off tow truck, NYPD traffic agent racially harassed in Brooklyn

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Graham Rayman and Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

A tow truck driver’s attempt to haul away an offending vehicle turned ugly when an angry mob of Brooklyn residents helped his prey escape — then started to belittle the city employee with racially-tinged taunts.

The truck driver, who is black, had a motorist’s car hooked up and was ready to take it away when a group of Brooklyn residents somehow got the vehicle loose — then started shouting at the man that he “should work in Harlem” and calling him a “loser,” according to shocking video posted on social media Friday.

“Flee! Flee! Flee!” one of the resident’s screamed as the motorist jumped into the car and sped away from the tow truck, vaulting over a set of tow bars that had already been deployed at the corner of 44th St. and 15th Ave. in Borough Park on Thursday.

The city worker managed to get half his paperwork done, so he had the licence and registration of the vehicle.

He filed a complaint with cops from the 66th Precinct, who are currently trying to locate the vehicle’s owner.

“We’re either going to go to his house and tow the vehicle or at least make sure he pays the fine,” said the tow truck operator’s union rep Marvin Robbins, who declined to release the driver’s name out of fear for his member’s safety.

No arrests have been made. Since the vehicle was already hooked up, the fleeing motorist could be charged with obstructing government administration, an NYPD source said.

Community leaders in Borough Park — a community inundated with parking problems — had asked the NYPD Traffic Division to pay special attention to that corner because double-parked vehicles were blocking traffic.

“We will not tolerate our traffic agents being subject to abuse in any form, not the least of which is the ugly example we see in this video,” NYPD spokesman Lt. John Grimpel said. “NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents responded to the area at the request of community members and local representatives who were concerned about illegal parking conditions that impede the flow of traffic, including emergency vehicles. This is disgusting behavior against an agent who was doing his job to keep New Yorkers safe while exhibiting restraint and professionalism.”

The tow truck operator was back at work Friday, Robbins said.

“He has a very thick skin,” he said. “These are the things that we have to deal with every day. We’re treated with a total lack of disrespect, but, just like everybody else we have a job to do.”

Sources with knowledge of the case said the dark-colored SUV was illegally parked near the corner when the NYPD tow truck rolled by.

The tow truck had gotten behind the vehicle and put down the tow bars — known as claws — to secure the wheels when residents started gathering.

One of the men started recording and the others got the motorist parked in front of the offending car to move so the SUV driver could escape.

“The claws were loaded and the back wheels were about to go up,” a source with knowledge of the case said.

A second source said that a tow rope was attached to the vehicle as well.

The video, which was posted on a Facebook page for the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, showed the SUV lurching over the tow bars, making an audible screeching noise.

Residents had also removed the tow rope to return to the driver — then blocked the city employee from trying to speak to motorists moments before he sped off, the video shows.

That’s when the taunts came.

“This is so great,” one guy said happily. “This guy worked his a– off for like a half hour.”

“What a loser!” a second man said, laughing.“You’re in the wrong precinct!” a third pedestrian can be heard screaming at the black city employee. “You should work in Harlem!”

The Facebook page noted that a member of the Borough Park Shomrim — a private Borough Park security force that works hand in hand with the NYPD — helped the motorist escape.

The frustrated tow truck driver — a 26-year veteran traffic enforcement agent — didn’t say anything as residents got into his face and threatened to put the incident on YouTube.

“He didn’t lose it and didn’t say anything to them,” Robbins said. “He took it like a trooper.”

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