- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2014

Robert Murray, a six-figure-earning organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is reportedly on unpaid leave after being charged with two felony counts of assaulting a police officer during protests on the Brooklyn Bridge last weekend.

Mr. Murray, 43, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, surrendered to police at Manhattan’s 5th Precinct Thursday morning, The Daily Beast reported. He was reportedly charged with two felony counts and three misdemeanors counts, including resisting arrest, inciting to riot and obstruction of governmental administration during protests that took place Dec. 13.

Mr. Murray works as an organizing coordinator for 32BJ, a 145,000-member New York affiliate of the SEIU, The Daily Beast reported.

Elaine Kim, assistant to the president for communications for 32BJ, confirmed to publication that Mr. Murray is a staff member and is “now on unpaid leave.”

“The union does not under any circumstance condone violence of any kind, including against police officers,” Ms. Kim said in a statement. “We respect the work of our police officers and support their efforts to protect both the public and those engaging in lawful protest. 32BJ SEIU has repeatedly called on protesters to express their views peacefully just as we called on the police to respect the rights of demonstrators. We trust the facts in this case will come to light through the legal process.”

Ms. Kim insisted that the SEIU had no official presence at the protests, which were inspired by the police-involved death of Eric Garner in Staten Island.

SEE ALSO: Eric Linsker, Baruch College professor, charged for inciting riot in Brooklyn

“The union did not organize any official contingent to participate in the protests,” she said, adding, “but individual staff and members who care about the issue participated peacefully, as did tens of thousands of other New Yorkers.”

Ms. Kim said Mr. Murray has been with the SEIU branch since 2011. His base salary is $91,117, but cellphone and travel allowances brought his total pay for 2013 to $105,464, she told The Daily Beast.

Mr. Murray was named as “male suspect No. 3” in the attack on police, which also led to the arrest of Baruch College Professor Eric Linsker, who was charged with assault in the second degree, and Brooklyn resident Maria Garcia, who was charged with resisting arrest, among other charges. Police are still searching for four other suspects connected to the Dec. 13 assault.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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