As a citywide curfew took effect, people around New York City on Tuesday night protesting the death of George Floyd and instances of police brutality dug in and refused to leave the streets.
“I don’t care about the curfew, I’m out here for my ancestors,” one woman at a protest outside the Barclays Center said. “I don’t have any plans to go home tonight.”
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Around 9:30 p.m., a crowd of several hundred protesters gathered outside the Barclays Center, defying the curfew, after many briefly left for a march shortly after 8 p.m.
Many rejected the curfew, which began 8 p.m. and runs until 5 a.m., telling NY1’s Ruschell Boone that, as long as they marched and protested peacefully, they should not be forced to leave the streets. A small group of NYPD officers accompanied the march on foot and in squad cars.
Some incidents of violence were reported at protests, but they were not seen widespread in the city.
Roughly 200 people were arrested Tuesday night, although the NYPD did not confirm if they were all arrested in protests, for breaking curfew, or looting. Police also did not specify if more people were taken into custody for breaking curfew than on Monday night.
About 20 protesters were seen arrested at 14th Street and 5th Avenue near Union Square. One protester said police told them they were being arrested for being outside after curfew, despite protesting for hours after the curfew without issue.
Enforcement of the curfew was not consistent. For example, some officers near the Manhattan Bridge did not arrest demonstraters for being outside, while others did.
The sixth day of demonstrations in the city, as has been the case the past several days, started out peaceful. An estimated 2,000 peaceful protesters gathered in Foley Square in the afternoon and began marching uptown.
But, as the sun set, the city braced for the possibility of another night of chaos and looting.
The windows of a Zara at Broadway and Fulton Street in Manhattan was smashed and some items pilfered despite the shop boarding up. It was not clear what people took from the store.
As of this writing, it’s not clear how much looting has happened in the city Tuesday.
In addition, at least one trash fire was spotted in Chelsea in the evening.
The NYPD announced earlier in the day that it would cancel all time off until further notice in an attempt to increase police presence on the streets.
That presence was seen at the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge around 9:35 p.m. Hundreds of police officers clad in riot gear and wielding batons blocked demonstraters from marching into Manhattan via Canal Street from the bridge to join a second group of protesters. An NYPD official estimated several thousand demonstraters were there in violation of the curfew.
Without an hour, the protesters turned around and left the scene, although police said some were arrested.
Protesters were let off the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge after several hours, according to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Large demonstrations were seen in the hours leading up to the curfew. On the Upper East Side, what remained of a massive crowd of more than 10,000 protesters marched the length of the city and gathered in Carl Schurz Park, the location of Gracie Mansion, home of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family.
As those marchers made their way along York Avenue, medical workers from Memorial Sloan Kettering took to the streets to cheer them on.
Before the curfew, another group of roughly 1,000 protesters made their way to Times Square, many of them medical workers who carried signs that read “white coats for black lives,” “racism is a public health issue,” and “we all bleed the same color, let our patients breathe.”
That protest, packed at 7:15 p.m., actually cleared out by 8 p.m.
But shortly after 8 p.m. Williams and several other elected officials joined demonstraters who remained to kneel for the eight-plus minutes Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Williams talked to NY1’s Shannan Ferry about the looting that has rocked the city, and why he opposed the 8 p.m. curfew.
“We started off wrong,” he said. “We said that from the beginning, and nobody would listen when they asked for the shutdown because of the coronavirus, so it’s not a tool that I’m afraid of using, but it’s the wrong tool now. Nobody wants to see police officers hurt. Nobody wants to see setting fire to police cars. We’re putting police officers in danger. Why is nobody having the obvious conversation that could help deal with all of this? A curfew might actually agitate it and make it a little bit worse.”
In the morning, de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented very different views of the actions of the NYPD on Monday as night fell and looting took over many of the city’s neighborhoods.
De Blasio sometimes angrily defended the police who appeared to be largely absent as looters smashed windows and ran off with stolen merchandise, while Cuomo said “the mayor and the NYPD did not do their jobs last night.”
After refusing the governor’s offer of the services of the state police and the National Guard, the mayor promised a greater police presence on the streets Tuesday night.