Vered Talks After Pleading Not Guilty

T. E. McMorrow
Ruth Vered with her attorney Robert Coyle February 28 outside the Sag Harbor Village municipal building, where she entered a not guilty plea to three charges.

Ruth Kalb, better known as Ruth Vered, the founder and former owner of the well-known art gallery Vered in East Hampton Village, pleaded not guilty in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court February 28 to a criminal misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, along with trespassing and harassment.

Those charges were brought after Vered, 80, was physically removed by police following a question and answer session at Tutto Il Giorno, a restaurant on Main Street in Sag Harbor, the night of February 12. That discussion session followed a screening of “Conscience Point,” a 2019 documentary contrasting the lives of the residents of the Shinnecock Indian Nation with their wealthy Hamptons neighbors.

After Vered was arrested, police released her from headquarters on Division Street with an appearance ticket, without processing her. After her attorney Robert Coyle entered the not guilty plea on Vered’s behalf on February 28, she was taken back to headquarters to be fingerprinted and have her mugshot taken.

Afterward, Vered and Coyle stopped to talk outside police headquarters, criticizing media reports that said she could not be reached for comment after her arrest.

“I could be reached. They just didn’t want to hear my opinion,” she said. “This way they say things I didn’t say.”

She said reports that she was highly intoxicated the night of the incident were incorrect.

“The whole ridiculous thing started because I asked a question that they didn’t want to hear. They asked me to leave,” Vered said. “They said I was trespassing. I wasn’t trespassing. I paid to be there. I didn’t know it would be a movie. I asked a question about that they didn’t want to hear, and they told me, ‘You have to leave now.’”

“The question was: Why are the Indians still, after 300 years, playing victims, and not moving on, like many minorities did?” she continued. “They didn’t like it because the whole movie was about these ‘poor’ victims. Immediately, they told me to leave.”

In a widely-viewed online video showing Vered being carried out by two officers, she is seen throwing a straight-legged kick at one of them. The arrest report says that the kick hit the officer in the knee, though in the video the kick appears to land in the groin area. Coyle blamed the escalation on Tutto’s manager putting his hands on Vered when he initially tried to get her to leave.

“We can be asked to leave certain places, but no one has the right to usher someone out physically,” Coyle said. “At that point, I think, is where it went wrong.”

He added that, as an Israeli-born Jew, his client faced oppression herself.

“My client wants to express that she has fought for minorities and the oppressed her entire life,” Coyle said.

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