What to Know
- Close to 300 NYC protestors were arrested between Thursday and Friday evening protests, part of a national response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody
- Union Square crowds chanted anti-police brutality refrains, including "I can't breathe" — the words Floyd said while he was cuffed and pinned to the ground for nearly 10 minutes, a cop's knee on his neck
- The family of Eric Garner, who died after uttering the same phrase in police custody years ago, attended an earlier, calmer Friday rally
Thousands of protesters took to New York City's streets Friday night to demonstrate against police brutality in the wake of a black man's death in Minneapolis, with at least 200 arrests amid intensifying violence.
It was a scene angrily repeated in dozens of American cities overnight. In fact, the Associated Press reported President Trump was preparing to invoke the Insurrection Act to send New York-based military police to Minneapolis to help quell the violence. It would be the first time that had happened since the 1992 Los Angeles riots, AP said.
Though they started relatively calmly in New York City, as night fell the protests escalated dramatically -- particularly in Brooklyn, where videos showed police vehicles burning and officers physically clashing with protesters. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced their request for an expedited, independent review by Attorney General Letitia James of "all actions and procedures that were used last night."
In total the NYPD confirmed at least 200 arrests were made Friday night -- including two women detained after one threw a Molotov cocktail at a police van -- and multiple cops were believed to have been injured. Commissioner Shea said the woman who threw the Molotov cocktail faces attempted murder charges. Officers recovered a firearm, bricks, and brace knuckles from protesters they arrested, Shea said.
"It's tough to practice de-escalation when you have a brick being thrown at your head," Shea said, who said a number of officers had teeth knocked out Friday night and others were in the emergency room as of Saturday morning. He described the protest at Foley Square as peaceful while the protest at Barclays Center was "a well planned, orchestrated protest" designed "specifically to cause mayhem."
Two state legislators at the Brooklyn demonstration were pepper-sprayed and one handcuffed, legislative leaders said in a statement.
But in a twist, after social media posts showed the police commandeering an MTA bus to transport protesters and the driver resisting, the Transport Workers Union tweeted that its members should refuse to drive the arrested.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson appeared to lay the blame with the NYPD, saying they should have been de-escalating the situation and calling it a "failure of leadership."
One protest video that quickly went viral (with nearly 6 million views overnight) showed a large male NYPD officer shoving a smaller female protester with intense force, sending her flying to the ground. The woman told NBC News she was released from the hospital early Saturday with a concussion; the NYPD said the officer is under investigation.
At his press conference Saturday morning, de Blasio acknowledged a number of issues at Friday's protest that "we need to address." He emphasized the NYPD's obligation to "find the best possible way to keep peace" while condemning the violent police-protestor clashes.
“Any protester that tries to take the humanity away from a police officer and devalue them just because they are a public servant is no better than the racists who devalue people of color and particularly black men in America," he added.
Friday's protests came just hours after the police officer seen kneeling on George Floyd's neck was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, Minnesota officials said. According to a criminal complaint, Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes, including 2 1/2 minutes after Floyd became unresponsive. (Late Friday night, Chauvin's wife said she was leaving him and that she extended her sympathies to the Floyd family.)
"George Floyd is dead. He is dead because he was black. He was killed because he was black. It's as simple as that. It's as horrible as that. It's as painful as that and it's as unacceptable as that," de Blasio said earlier Friday, before the protests.
More News on Death of George Floyd
Friday marked the second day of protests in New York City over Floyd's death. They began Thursday afternoon, with crowds of people gathering in Union Square chanting refrains against police violence, including "I can't breathe" — the words Floyd said while he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground for almost 10 minutes, the officer's knee on the back of his neck.
"I can't breathe" were also the last words of Eric Garner, who died after being taken down by NYPD officers on Staten Island in 2014. The phrase became a rallying cry after Garner's death.
Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, was seen at the Friday demonstration alongside New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to lead another rally Saturday at the Staten Island location where Garner died.
Protesters say Floyd's killing is reminiscent of Garner and Rodney King, the black man who was violently beaten by Los Angeles police officers. When the cops were acquitted, it sparked riots.
Some protesters in New York City turned to violence on Thursday night, as did many of the marchers across the country. One of the New York City protesters arrested during the hours-long Justice for George Floyd demonstration punched an officer in the face, while another was carrying a knife, officials said. A third person threw a garbage can at an officer, striking him in the head, police said.
Two officers were injured during the demonstrations, police said. It wasn't clear if any of the demonstrators were seriously hurt. Video showed at least one demonstrator being clubbed and others being wrestled to the ground as some protesters shoved officers and screamed insults.