NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. - The city will conduct an investigation into the violent protests and tense police officer interactions at demonstrations in Brooklyn and Manhattan over the past two days, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.
“We need to do a full investigation and look at the actions of those officers and see what was done and why it was done and what could be done differently,” de Blasio said.
The announcement comes three days after several protests sprung up across the city, and at times led to violent clashes between protesters and police. The investigation will be led by the city’s Corporation Counsel Jim Johnson and Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett.
What You Need To Know:
- Independent investigation into last night's protests is underway.
- The mayor defended police officers seen driving their SUV into a crowd.
- Shea and de Blasio said outside groups are to blame for demonstrations turning violent.
- Despite wide criticism, the mayor said NYPD has shown restraint in handling protests.
For the third day since violent protests broke out in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio took pains to defend the action of some police officers, while simultaneously trying to express support for peaceful protests.
The mayor said preliminary information gathered by the NYPD shows some of the protesters are from violent groups that have come in from outside the city to purposefully incite violence.
“It is a small number of people, it is well organized even though many of the people are associated with the anarchist movement,” de Blasio said.
The demonstrations are in response to the killing of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died in police custody after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
The video has touched off violent demonstrations across the nation.
Tensions in the city escalated on Saturday. More than 300 people were arrested, several officers were injured and the police reported some damage to private and public property, officials said.
Several videos show interactions between officers and protesters becoming dangerously violent. In one incident captured on video, two NYPD vehicles can be seen driving into a crowd of protesters as they try to block their path with a metal barricade. In another video, an NYPD officer is seen pulling the mask of man off his face to pepper spray him.
Both incidents have led to wide criticism from local officials who say the NYPD has not done enough to deescalate interactions.
Both de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea defended the incident.
“I saw people converging on the police vehicle. I saw people throwing things at that vehicle, that is not peaceful protest,” de Blasio said Sunday.
Shea at one point described protesters as a “mob” and said the vehicle incident could be described as “an ambush.”
“When I look at the big picture here, a situation that was very complex, very difficult, and unlike anything honestly, we have seen in recent years,” de Blasio said.
During a Sunday briefing at City Hall, de Blasio also announced his administration will back a push to repeal a state law that currently shields police officers’ disciplinary records from being publicly released.
Repealing the law, known as 50-a is one of several measures supporters of police reform have called for as part of a wider effort to increase transparency and ensure discipline is applied when an officer is accused of wrongdoing.
The mayor said he would support legislation to make the change, as long as the proposal ensures that private officer information can be protected.