NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Taxi drivers staged a five-hour shutdown at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday, refusing to pick up passengers to protest the arrest of a fellow cabbie.

It was an unbelievable sight from above the airport.  A sea of frozen yellow and white cabs was formed in a show of solidarity for driver Ahmed Deraz.

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said the protest followed the arrest of Deraz around 3 p.m. Friday.

Jersey City Police Lt. Pietro Veltre, who was in uniform driving his personal vehicle on the Pulaski Skyway, claimed Deraz cut him off and continued to drive in a reckless manner, Coleman said.

Veltre followed Deraz from the Skyway to the cab staging area near the airport, where an argument ensued. Port Authority Police were called and arrested Deraz, Coleman said.

However, according to Deraz, Lt. Veltre physically pulled him out of his cab.

When asked by CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez if he was punched, Deraz replied “he didn’t punch me.”  However, Deraz said the officer did push him reaching through the window of the vehicle.

According to Jersey City Police, Lt. Veltre claims Deraz assaulted him when he pulled him over for driving erratically. Dozens of cab drivers, though, described a much different scene.

Driver Khalid Amir and others felt as though the cabbie was the victim. They said Deraz was cut off at the airport and assaulted.

“He turned the ignition off and took the keys out and he hit him in his chest with his elbow. And he got him out, then he called the cops all over. They come and they lock him up after that,” Amir told 1010 WINS.

Another driver, David Soulman, said the cabbie was “punched” in the face.

Deraz was charged with obstruction of justice and aggravated harassment, and issued summonses for following too closely, reckless driving and improper passing.

The protest broke up following Deraz’s release from custody around 8 p.m.

The Port Authority was using buses to transport incoming passengers to area rail stations to help them get to their destinations.  Drivers were back in business before the evening rush of arrivals — a potential passenger nightmare diverted.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Hazel Sanchez

Comments (18)
  1. Susan says:

    Those Newark cab drivers are MANIACS. Whenever they drive thru the Pulaski Skyway which goes thru Kearny, Jersey City, then the Holland Tunnel, these newark cabbies get ROAD RAGE all of a sudden.

    I live in Jersey City, one day I was driving on the Pulaski Skyway towards the Jersey Shore (1&9 South). I was in the right lane and as I was driving up alongside the cabbie, he cuts me off from the LEFT LANE, put a dent in my car, and kept driving. I could not believe. I saw him and he was Black (don’t know if he was American, Hiatian, African).

    I’m so happy this police officer followed him and gave him a ticket. These newark cabbies think they can drive without obeying traffic laws whenever they are driving towards Nyc and through Hudson County.

    This is a quote from another comment I saw on a NJ website from @mindful
    “The thing thats funny here…..the taxi drivers stopped taking passengers, because one of “theirs” was arrested for something….Lets look at it from their side….”HMMM…a friend of mine just got arrested for something I have nothing to do with….I’LL SHOW THEM!!… I’ll stop working….wont make any money to support my family..or pay the lease on the taxi…the passengers might be delayed..BUT they still get to where they have to go….I dont make any money for the day….BUT…..They wont think of doing this to us again!!!”… LMFAO!!!”

    I’ll be honest, if I were Cory Booker I would get out of Newark ASAP!
    Newark is full of angry and bitter people. If Cory Booker can manage to remain calm, open minded, objective, and not become angry and bitter while mayor then my hat goes off to him.

  2. Fred says:

    Cab drivers at all three NY airports have long been arrogant and out of control, and have little or no respect for rules of the road. Most are foreigners, and drive as if they are in a foreign country when not blasting the radio with some god awful chanting, or yapping on their own cell phone, ignoring half the lights and traffic.I applaud the officer who stood up to this nitwit, and actually had the guts to stop the guy. And for those who supported him, yank all their licenses and shields. Find people who actually want to work, and know how to drive, and don’t just hang out like hungry puppies for a tip……….

  3. Robert J Senn says:

    if you ever have been to the airport you ould no the cabbies are the worste in all in driving along the air port roads and cabbie staging area

    1. Kevin says:

      They have the right to earn an honest living without getting caught in the crossfire between an irresponsible, power-drunk cop and his girlfriend.

  4. NYDAME says:

    Anyone who deals with those New Jersey cab drivers knows that some of them should not be working in that type of job. Some of them are damn nasty. After hearing the radio broadcast, I swear that sounds like driver #33. He stopped the cab and was going to assault me after arguing with me! There was no one else around. Although I know there are some decent ones, I have no sympathy for them and I don’t give them my business either. They don’t deserve it. I reported this and no one gets back to me.

  5. Masr1ya says:

    It clearly says in the article, that an officer, was in uniform in his personal vehicle. That says a lot to me. If he was your average citizen, he would have caught up to the cabbie, cut him off, then yell or scream through the window and maybe flip him the bird and then be on his way.

    The officer followed the cabbie (with intent), started an argument with the cabbie then proceeded to assault this man, then on top of all of that he has the cabbie arrested, to attempt to humiliate the man.

    This is a complete abuse of power and should not be tolerated. And you wonder why bullying has heightened over the past few years — well, look around, everywhere you turn you find some powerful figure abusing the little guy.

    Linda, why don’t you open your eyes and think twice before you throw out an ignorant comment like that. I agree with David. Put yourself in the cabbie’s position and I bet the tables will turn. It’s so easy to criticize others, but yourself? Will never happen.

    And to the first person talking about taxpayers, why not criticize our great governor who cut DMV workers from working mon-sat to tues-sat. He slashed funding to schools and used a state helicopter to go to his son’s football games. And as to try to correct himself, he gives half of the $$ that it costs, “back to the taxpayers”.

    1. Kevin says:

      Agreed. Abuse of power by law enforcement is out-of-control in New Jersey. I totally agree with your take on bullying and how some cops are making threatening rather than protecting public safety.

      New Jersey needs tougher oversight on law enforcement to prevent it from creating the same anarchy that it is intended to prevent.

  6. christine says:

    so, the port authority used buses… are taxpayers stuck paying that bill??

  7. mark says:

    I’m a little surprised the cabbie wasn’t shot 30 to 40 times

    1. Kevin says:

      Followed by a statement by the Jersey City PD that they are seeking the death penalty in charges filed against the (deceased) cab driver.

      When will abuse of power by law enforcement in New Jersey be taken seriously?

  8. Jus Like U says:

    Adults. Not teenagers, but adults. Hmmmm!!! Once again, signs of where we are as human beings. There are ‘bad seeds’ on both sides (Cab drivers & Cops). I will leave it at that. All fall short.

    1. edlo says:

      this is a clear case of racism and power abuse, if those cab drivers were European the case would have been different….

      1. MSavage says:

        Liberalism is a mental disorder

  9. Barry Levine says:

    Unfortunately there are cops who have an extremely inflated ego and feel that everyone is beneath them in every way because they have what is known as “power”. Many guys go into policework because their mothers hit them in front of their friends and this had a terrible impact on them and now they must prove something ……..what that something is is beyond me.

  10. David says:

    for Kenny and Linda i guess you guys a little over . for you Kenny if you are not a native Indian which i guess you are not you should find yourself a place to call home since this is not yours either …. and for you Linda one day you will harassed or maybe brutalized by a cop then you would learn the hard way with all my regards .
    I am a chemist now but when i was in college i worked as a cab driver on the weekend to support my self through college and i dealt with people like you

  11. Linda says:

    Fire all the cab drivers for interferring with law enforcement. Send a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated or next time it could turn out worse. If the cab drivers get away with it this time, there will be a next time.

    1. JT says:

      Couldn’t be ANOTHER out of control cop on an ego trip, could it? Hmmmmmm.

  12. DanTe says:

    Jersey City cops or Nassau Cops? Who’s more drunk and disorderly?

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