Police say they made five arrests Thursday - all without incident - after protesters marched up 42nd Street in response to the police shooting death of an unarmed teenager in Missouri.
Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this week. The 18-year-old was unarmed at the time.
Witnesses to Brown's death say he had his hands up when police shot him.
About 80 protesters marched to Times Square from Union Square Thursday night.
Some marched in the streets, disrupting traffic, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot!"
Protesters were marching up 42nd Street when police stopped them at Ninth Avenue.
Police then hemmed about 60 of the protesters on the corner behind netting.
Police said the protesters were being unruly.
NY1 witnessed controlled arrests at the scene.
"What's really important is that we come out and show solidarity because this isn't just what happened in Ferguson. This is happening in many cities all over the United States, and I think it's really important that we band together and show that this isn't OK," said one person who marched to Times Square.
Vigils were also held in Harlem, Union Square, and Bedford-Stuyvesant to spoke out against police brutality.
Part of the demonstration in Harlem involved speaking the names of people killed or hurt in violent confrontations with police.
About 200 people gathered in Morningside Park with posters and signs, displaying their anger.
Many called police brutality a sign of racism, that police target people of color.
In Union Square, protesters evoked some of the last words of Eric Garner, that he can't breathe. He died after being put in a chokehold by a police officer on camera on Staten Island.
About 70 people gathered in Bedford-Stuyvesant with a bullhorn and a similar message that violence must stop.
Demonstrators believe police are not showing any respect for human life, and they say it's been going on for far too long.
"You have to remember all the lives that were lost to police brutality, to police violence," said one woman at the Harlem rally. "There have been a number of unarmed individuals who have been shot or choked or killed by the police. There have been a number of people that have been beaten and assaulted by the police that are doing no wrong."
Meanwhile, protests over the death of Brown in Missouri took a much different tone Thursday night.
After four days of violent clashes with police, the latest demonstrations were incident-free.
They came after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the state's highway patrol to take over security from the Town of Ferguson police.
Police responded to earlier protests with force and tried to shut them down.
President Barack Obama addressed the situation for the first time Thursday afternoon.
"There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their first amendment rights," Obama said. "And here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs."
The president is ordering the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate Brown's death.