What to Know
- Nearly 1,000 NYC protestors were arrested over the course of four days of protests, part of a national response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. On Monday, an additional 200+ arrests were made
- Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD's overall response to the protests has been restrained but some incidents require further investigation; he called for a cop seen pulling a gun on a crowd to lose his badge immediately
- He defended the protest arrest of his own daughter in Manhattan, saying, "She believes a lot of change is needed. I'm proud of her that she cares so much and she's willing to go out there and do something about it"
New York City will have a curfew imposed to crack down on protest violence, and more cops will be on the streets Monday and Tuesday night to assist that effort, Mayor Bill de Blasio's announced.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced Monday's 11 p.m curfew in an afternoon interview on WAMC radio. One hour before it was set to begin, the mayor said the violence and destruction already underway prompted his decision to impose a curfew Tuesday night as well, starting at 8 p.m.; both curfews end the following morning at 5 a.m. Essential workers, people experiencing homelessness and those seeking medical attention will be exempt from the curfew.
In the two hours leading up to Monday's curfew, dozens of looters spread out between Midtown and Union Square, in some instances ripping off plywood to break into stores. Crowds were spotted running out, hands full of merchandise from Macy's, Best Buy, Foot Looker, Duane Reade as well as the Microsoft and AT&T stores.
People were seen running away from Macy's in Herald Square after a number of police officers responded to reports of looting and fires being set inside the side. The scenes on Monday painted the clearest signs that some opportunists took advantage of the peaceful movement calling for racial justice.
A police spokesperson said, “there are packs of youths running as fast as they can, smashing windows as fast as they can, and police are trying to catch them as soon as possible.” More than 200 arrests were made Monday as a result.
Reports of destruction started around 8 p.m. after a large and relatively peaceful group moved around 30 Rockefeller Plaza. A handful of demonstrators broke off, breaking windows at the Nintendo and Michael Kors stores. Arrests started then and the number of arrests is expected to increase as the night continued.
At the same time, on the other side of the river in Brooklyn, thousands continued a peaceful march down Nostrand Avenue. The group of demonstrators started their protest in Bedford-Stuyvesant at 5 p.m. and continued marching through Brooklyn past curfew. For most of the afternoon, at least three groups of varying size march through Manhattan and Brooklyn, mirroring the crowded, peaceful protests seen for much of the previous days.
In Washington Square Park, New York City’s top uniformed member of the force, Chief of Department Terrence Monahan, stepped into a crowd of protesters after items were thrown at police, and at the encouragement of protesters who urged the crowd to stop and delivered a message. Then the protesters and Monahan kneeled.
“Everyone, this has got to end, we all know Minnesota was wrong, they were arrested which they should be. There’s not a police officer over here that thinks Minnesota was justified. We stand with you on that.”
The NYPD has added significant amounts of officers on duty Monday, stationing additional officers in potential hot spots, a senior law enforcement official says. The focus will remain in the parts of Brooklyn surrounding the Barclays Center and in Lower Manhattan.
Unexpected chaos on the streets in the Bronx was reported late night and into early morning. Mayor de Blasio said there were "real problems" on Fordham Road and Burnside Avenue but didn't get into the specifics.
"Spoke with Councilman Fernando Cabrera about immediate steps to address the situation. Also spoke to Commissioner Shea + Chief Pichardo, who are sending additional help," he tweeted early Tuesday morning.
A video posted to Twitter early Tuesday morning appears to show cops patrolling the streets at Walton Avenue and 170th Street in the Bronx when a vehicle sped through the intersection, hitting one of them. An NYPD spokesperson said the department is aware of the video but didn't have further information.
Monday and Tuesday's curfew decision follows a fourth night where thousands of protesters flooded city streets, blocking traffic and setting NYPD vehicles on fire during demonstrations against police brutality. They are part of widespread national unrest in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody a week ago.
Other cities, from Chicago to Los Angeles to Philadelphia, have imposed curfews to address late-night violence. Earlier Monday, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea rejected the idea for New York City.
“We could impose a curfew today and the problem is, people need to listen to a curfew and that’s not going to happen, first and foremost, and if people think it will, they don’t understand what’s going on," Shea said on the "Today" show.
Nearly 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests started in New York City Thursday night, Mayor de Blasio's daughter Chiara among them. NYPD officials say they've recovered a range of weapons -- from firearms to brass knuckles and bricks -- from protesters in the last four days.
The demonstrations have started off peacefully each day, as seen in other states across the country, and turned violent at night, as has also been the case in other states. Investigators believe some anarchist groups are fueling the late-night mayhem, part of what they describe as a coordinated and premeditated effort to incite violence.
About a half-dozen NYPD officers were injured in the fourth night of protests, officials said early Monday. More than 40 have been hurt since Thursday, some bloodied by the clashes but none seriously injured.
Shots were fired at a marked NYPD vehicle just before midnight in Queens Sunday, a senior law enforcement official said, though it wasn't immediately clear if it was connected to the protests. No officers were hurt. A few hours earlier, hundreds of protesters marched from Brooklyn to Manhattan, blocking all lanes of traffic on the Manhattan Bridge.
Other demonstrators concentrated in the Union Square area, where the charred wreckage of burned vehicles remained from the night before. Looting was reported in SoHo, and more fires set, for another night. By Monday afternoon, midtown’s higher-end department stores and luxury retailers were mostly boarded up or in the process of being boarded up. In SOHO, what stores weren’t boarded up had saws and fresh-cut plywood outside ready to be installed.
"When it got dark, it got ugly quick," Shea said, though he noted there was less violence on Sunday than there has been on previous evenings.
De Blasio described the looting as "unacceptable" and said a very small group of protesters were responsible. He's confident the NYPD will track them down.
Vandalism has been rampant when night falls, with obscenities scrawled on everything from police cars to the stoned walls of Fort Greene park to the iconic St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Mayor de Blasio, along with local leaders in tense cities across the country, have drawn a clear line between what they say are two groups of protesters: One marches in solidarity against the latest egregious case of white police brutality against a black man. The other wants to stoke tensions, they say.
De Blasio says the latter group is undermining the rightful protests of the others -- and did so again Sunday, though like Shea, he noted that day was more peaceful than past ones. In a series of press briefings over the last few days, he has condemned the actions of the Minneapolis officers in Floyd's death. He has also appealed directly to white New Yorkers to help dissipate this racist climate -- one evinced just a day before Floyd died by a white woman's behavior in Central Park.
"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," de Blasio said. We’re not where we need to be on policing in America or in New York City. We all have to do more and we have to do it quickly. To those out in peaceful protest, we hear you. And we cannot let violence overtake this powerful moment."
The latter group was part of the one that set the 88th Precinct in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood ablaze late Friday; multiple Molotov cocktails were hurled at police vehicles, some with officers inside. That violence followed a series of events in downtown Brooklyn where cops were seen pepper-spraying protesters including elected officials and slamming some to the ground outside Barclays.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked Attorney General Letitia James to expedite an independent review into police handling of the protests. Some have said the response was grossly mishandled. Shea said the goal was to de-escalate the situation, but said, "It's very difficult to practice de-escalation when you're having a brick thrown at you."
Overall, Shea says, the police response has been measured.
“It was an incredibly challenging and busy weekend, tens of thousands of protesters all over New York City,” he said Monday. "In literally tens of thousands of encounters, we have about six that our internal affairs officers are looking at."
De Blasio echoed those sentiments, saying in his briefing a short time after Shea's comments that police largely showed restraint Sunday night. A handful of incidents warrant further review, he said.
Among the NYPD actions under investigation: A video posted by a reporter for the Gothamist Sunday showed one cop point a handgun at people at the corner of 12th Street and Broadway.
"That officer should have his gun and badge taken away today," de Blasio said Monday. "There will be an investigation immediately to determine the larger consequences." The Police Benevolent Association later tweeted a longer video of the incident showing the officer unholster his weapon "only after his supervisor was nearly killed with a brick."
Also under review: video that showed two police SUVs push through a barrier placed by a group of protesters in Prospect Heights Saturday night. Some protesters had been clinging to the hoods and were pushed some to the ground. Officials say protesters were throwing rocks, bottles and flaming debris at one of the NYPD SUVs, which is why the officers didn't get out to confront them.
De Blasio broached that particular incident again in his Monday briefing, saying he didn't feel like he condemned it strongly enough in prior press conferences.
"It's not acceptable for a police car to move in any way through a crowd," the mayor said. "There is no situation where a police vehicle should drive into a crowd of protesters or New Yorkers of any kind. It is dangerous and it is unacceptable. Discipline must be meted out in any case where it is merited."
The mayor's own daughter is among those facing discipline. Chiara de Blasio was arrested Saturday night during a protest in Manhattan. She was released not long after being taken into custody for "unlawful assembly" at East 12th Street and Broadway. De Blasio said Monday Chiara had not told the mayor or his wife about her intentions to participate in the protests ahead of time but described her as someone who wants "only to do good in the world."
"She believes a lot of change is needed. I'm proud of her that she cares so much and she's willing to go out there and do something about it," the mayor said. "She believes that everything she did was in the spirit of peaceful, respectful protest -- and the bottom line is I will let her speak for herself in any way she wants to."
The Sergeants Benevolent Association, the powerful NYPD union that has been a vocal critic of de Blasio's leadership, posted an image of Chiara de Blasio's arrest information, which included her home address and ID number, on Twitter Sunday night. The social media platform took down the tweet -- which read "How can the NYPD protect the city of NY from rioting anarchist when the Mayors object throwing daughter is one of them" -- for violating its terms of service.
Meanwhile, the NYPD is bracing for more protests this week. It has told its officers that they should be prepared to come into work whenever and wherever they are needed in the city due to the ongoing protests in all five boroughs.
"The men and women of this police department will be consistent, they will be out there again ensuring the rights of people to peacefully assemble," Shea said Monday ahead of more anticipated protests in the afternoon. "We ask all New Yorkers to participate and do it safely."
More News on Death of George Floyd
Twenty states, as well as Washington, D.C., have activated the National Guard amid the violence sparked by Floyd's death. Shea rejected that idea for New York City. Cuomo said Monday he had the National Guard on standby if needed, though he believed the NYPD had sufficient manpower to handle the protests.
The violence has overshadowed the peaceful protests, some of which have been marked by solidarity among police and demonstrators in New York and elsewhere. In Queens Sunday afternoon, NYPD officers were seen kneeling with protesters. The protesters applauded the cops who joined their demonstration.
In the evening, high-ranking officers in Brooklyn like Brooklyn North Chief Jeffrey Maddrey and NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Ed Delatorre also knelt with protesters, empathizing with the pain of decades after decades of racial injustice. Maddrey said he was inspired by the officers in Queens hours earlier.
"The folks in the community, they're hurt. They're upset. They are not our enemies. We just have to show them that we do understand their pain and that we do love them," he said. "Those are our brothers and sisters, but we just have to figure out how we can work with them, let them know that we want to do their protests in peace." The peaceful gesture was broken up mere minutes later when glass bottles were thrown into the crowd. Police officers came to disperse the group and mayhem followed, with protesters running for their safety.
Floyd died May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes during an arrest attempt over a counterfeit $20 in the Twin Cities. That now-fired officer has been charged with murder and manslaughter. Video showed other cops helping to restrain Floyd, whose dying words -- "I can't breathe" -- echoed the last words Eric Garner uttered on a Staten Island street corner in 2014. Garner died after being placed in an NYPD officer's chokehold. The cop was fired five years later. His family has attended several peaceful Floyd rallies.
Asked Monday why black men disproportionately die in police incidents, Shea said simply, "I wish I had the answer to that."
The protests involving tens of thousands across the country come amid the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people in the United States and nearly 25,000, at least, in New York alone. Black and Latino people have died at higher rates than the general population across America and in New York City, which accounts for nearly a fifth of all coronavirus deaths in the country.
Cuomo warned Monday that the series of protests could exacerbate COVID-19 in New York, just days before the city's expected reopening on June 8. It'll likely take weeks to notice any potential significant uptick in infection, he said.
"New York City reopens next week. It took us 93 days to get here. We have to take a minute and ask ourselves, 'What are we doing here?' What are we trying to accomplish?" Cuomo said as he reiterated that he stands with protesters in finding Floyd's death horrific. "We should be outraged. Protests, yes. Be frustrated, yes. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It's not just Mr. Floyd."
"There's a moment for change here, yes. It's not enough to come out and say 'I'm angry and frustrated.' And what? What do you want?" the governor added. "The protesters are making a point -- and most of them are making a sensible point -- but you have to add the common-sense agenda that every voice calls for so the politicians know what to do. People united can do anything."