What to Know
- The NYPD is ready for possible citywide protests once former Officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial wraps up in Minneapolis, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said
- Shea said the city has been in close touch with officials in Minneapolis throughout the trial; "We expect the possibility of some protests here, certainly a lot of that has to do with the outcome," he said
- Mayor de Blasio said if that happens, the city would put a heavy emphasis on its community affairs offers and allow peaceful protests to proceed; violence won't be tolerated, he has said
The NYPD is ready for possible citywide protests as news comes that the jury has reached a verdict Tuesday at the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on the neck of George Floyd for more than nine minutes last year, was found guilty on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Chauvin, 45, will face sentencing in eight weeks and could be sent to prison for decades.
Video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes before his death prompted demonstrators to show up in force across the five boroughs with calls for justice through the summer. They're expected to do so again in the coming days if the 45-year-old former cop is acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death. Earlier rallies sometimes erupted into clashes with NYPD officers and local leaders called for the cops to hold back on excessive force against protesters.
"As much as we call for peace, we need justice," said Rev. Kevin McCall on Sunday at the Barclays Center, the site of many demonstrations. "We will not allow the police to stop us from peaceful protestings and doing civil disobedience in this city."
In an effort to avoid violent conflicts should protests occur, the department and local leaders in the community, as well as faith leaders, have been working together to find a way that will keep the peace. Dozens of clergy members have linked with cops and their communities, hoping to ensure any demonstrations following a verdict are safe — and in the event of demonstrations, the three groups will stand together against violence.
"For us, the plan is to be proactive. We are trying not to wait until something happens to react to that," said Rev. Dr. J. Loren Russell, of the Bronx. "So what we planned to do here on the day of the verdict is come together as a show of collective unified front and to let everyone know that we stand together. That we are not going to rob. We are not going to tear up our communities."
Apostle Dr. Staci Ramos, of the Garden of Gethsemane Ministries, said they have been working throughout the trial to spread a message of peace, and to make sure communities stay safe for demonstrators, police, business owners and residents.
"We are church, community and cops. We are bringing the three, connecting the three together because we can't all do it by ourselves, so we have to come together in unity and do it together," Ramos said. "You may think it's only the cops' job, but no no no no — we are inserting ourselves in our community and we are taking authority. It's not only their job. It's our job also to guard our communities, to car for our communities, to uplift our communities."
With recent police killings of Daunte Wright in Minnesota, not far from where Floyd died, and 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Illinois, protesters once again demand police accountability. At least eight people in New York City were arrested Thursday at amid demonstrations.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said last week that the department was preparing for the possibility of larger protests, which hinges on the outcome of the trial.
"We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes with everyone from grassroots organizations, elected officials, clergy and making sure that whatever happens we do it peacefully and we do it without violence here. I am confident that is what’s going to happen," Shea said.
Beginning Monday, the department has instructed officers to not take an unscheduled day off. That's when prosecutors and Chauvin's defense will pull key testimony to support their narrative for what killed Floyd. The anonymous jury will later deliver verdicts in a courthouse surrounded by concrete barriers and razor wire, in an anxious city heavily fortified by National Guard members.
Former President Donald Trump last year said the National Guards should be called to New York City amid the height of the protests last summer, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed back on the idea. Instead, they implemented curfews.
The mayor last week said that the city has learned "very important" lessons in how it handled protests in the past.
"We are going to use the approach that has been working, which is put a heavy emphasis on our community affairs officers and being respectful of protests. I think we’ve learned some very important lessons about the right way to do it and that’s what we’ll be looking to do," the mayor said.
The NYPD's handling of last year's protests prompted a lawsuit from New York Attorney General Tish James following what she called a pattern of excessive, brutal and unlawful force against peaceful protesters.
James sued the NYPD in January, seeking to install a federal monitor to oversee the department following allegedly widespread civil rights abuses last summer.
James' action reignited the debate over how the department handled the George Floyd protests that rocked the city last year. Late last year, the city's Department of Investigation released a bombshell report on deficiencies in the police response that called for wholesale oversight and procedural change.
In the complaint, James outlined the NYPD’s illegal and harmful conduct against New Yorkers during the recent racial justice protests and for years prior, "which has led to significant injuries and violated individuals’ basic right to peacefully protest," according to James' office.
The lawsuit specifically charges the NYPD, the City of New York, Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Shea, and former NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan with failing to address the "longstanding pattern of abuse by not properly training, supervising, and disciplining officers to prevent misconduct, despite knowledge and public admission that it violated the rights of New Yorkers," according to James'.