As darkness fell on New York City on the fifth straight night of George Floyd protests, looting was again seen after peaceful demonstrations earlier in the day — just a few hours before a curfew was set to take effect.
Looting Again in the City
Looters smashed the windows of the Best Buy in Midtown, making off with merchandise before police arrived. Some officers were spotted attacking them with their batons.
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It’s not clear if the looters at the Best Buy were protesters. Police said shortly before 11 p.m. that officers made dozens of arrests Monday for looting, disorderly conduct, and criminal mischief in various parts of the city.
The iconic Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square was broken into despite being boarded up. Police were on the scene around midnight, but there were no details as of this writing on how many people gained access to the store, or how much merchandise they pilfered.
An Urban Outfitters across from the Macy’s was also looted:
There were reports that vandalism and looting were particularly pervasive in the Bronx, with one NYPD lieutenant estimating looters hit almost every store on Fordham Road from Webster Avenue to Jerome Avenue.
The mayor tweeted early Tuesday morning that the NYPD would send additional help, although he did not provide details as of 1:40 a.m.
In addition, several small trash fires were spotted in the city, including on Sixth Avenue after protesters passed through Rockefeller Center, and outside a Santander Bank in Herald Square.
At multiple locations in the city, police did not enforce the curfew when it went into effect. Waves of protesters continued to gather around 11 p.m. in front of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and people were seen walking around the Macy's in Herald Square.
In a joint statement earlier Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a curfew would run from 11 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday and be accompanied by a doubling of NYPD officers assigned to keep order.
Cuomo and de Blasio said those officers would be deployed to lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, areas where they said "violence and property damage occurred” during Sunday night's protests.
Calling into to NY1 on Monday night, de Blasio said a curfew would be in place for the city the following day as well, from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday.
It’s unclear how much of an impact the earlier curfew will have on curbing looting or violence. Tens of thousands of protesters were still demonstrating across the city at 8 p.m. Monday, although some did disperse later in the night as the clock neared the 11 p.m. tick for the first curfew.
Until Monday night, the city had not enacted a curfew order in recent memory.
Many people NY1 spoke with at a Barclays Center protest objected to the curfews, but some said they were uncomfortable with them given New York’s status as the city that never sleeps. At a press conference shortly after 11 p.m., elected officials and activists criticized the curfew, saying they were not consulted before it was announced, and argued it trampled on the point of the protests and First Amendment rights.
Peaceful Protests Earlier in the Day
Violent skirmishes with police were not seen widespread after previous nights of clashes between some demonstraters and police following largely peaceful protests. Many protesters on Monday made a point to condemn violent demonstrators seen the past four nights.
An estimated 10,000 protesters gathered in front of the Barclay’s Center, and more joined the crowd from other marches.
Police told the crowd they wanted to allow them to march peacefully, while protesters asked them to join them in taking a knee. At least one high-ranking NYPD official, Chief of Department Terence Monahan, obliged at a protest at another location Monday.
Earlier in the day, several hundred demonstrators gathered at on the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street in Crown Heights, separating into two groups and marching down both streets. Marching peacefully, they chanted “say his name,” “Black Lives Matter,” and displayed a list of African Americans killed by police.
At least 50 NYPD officers in tactical gear were on the route and allowed protestors to pass. Marchers told NY1 they had planned the demonstration for the afternoon so it would remain peaceful.
Meanwhile, on the Lower East Side, protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” and occasionally stopped to kneel while MTA bus drivers honked their horns in solidarity and some local residents cheered them on.
For days, the NYPD has struggled to keep order amid rising tensions with protesters who have taken to city streets to protest police brutality following the death of Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes during an arrest. Floyd died May 25.
Looters smashed windows at stores in Manhattan overnight the day before, including those in Herald Square, The Diamond District, and SoHo. Some broke into high-end stores like Chanel, Tory Burch, and Kate Spade. Demonstrators also started a dumpster fire near Herald Square.
The NYPD said more than 200 people were arrested, some for looting, Sunday night into early Monday. At least seven officers were injured, and a dozen department vehicles vandalized.
Many protesters, activists, and elected officials, meanwhile, have charged the NYPD has confronted demonstraters too aggressively, and demanded investigations after several incidents they deemed police brutality, such as viral video showing a police van driving into a crowd of protesters over the weekend.