Demonstrations that brought out both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian supporters to midtown Manhattan on Thursday led to some tense confrontations, with police saying at least two dozens arrests had been made.
The melee on Thursday evening resulted in 26 arrests on charges including obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct and criminal possession of a weapon, according to city police.
Video clips posted to social media showed some punches being thrown before police stepped in and created space and barriers between the two sides.
Police say the Hate Crime Task Force has launched an investigation into an assault of a Jewish man in Times Square, confirming that they're looking into a video that shows a group of people beating on a man in the middle of the street. The victim, 29-year-old Joseph Borgen, said he suffered the brutal beating at the hand of an angry mob allegedly yelling anti-Semitic slurs.
"They proceeded to assault me, beat me, kick me, punch me hit me with crutches, hit me with flag poles," Borgen told NBC New York. He said he hadn't even gotten to the protest, but rather said he exited a nearby subway station and was targeted, getting pepper-sprayed amid the attack.
Police on Friday afternoon announced that Waseem Awawdeh, 23, was arrested for using a crutch to assault a man in that area. He was charged with hate crime assault and other charges. It could not immediately be determined if Awawdah — who has six prior arrests, including one for assaulting police — had a lawyer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bias attack "disgusting and unacceptable," indicating on his weekly WNYC radio appearance that additional arrests would be made. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday condemned the attack and said the state police Hate Crimes Task Force would offer assistance.
“New York is the vibrant and dynamic home for people from around the world. This tapestry makes New York the extraordinary place that it is. Those of all faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities must be able to walk the streets safely and free from harassment and violence,” Cuomo said in a prepared release.
On Friday, police were staged and ready in case of any additional unrest. While protesters still took to the streets, the scene was not as contentious or violent as the night before. Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters descended upon the Museum of Modern Art, denouncing board members with alleged ties to pro-Israel organizations. The protesters sat outside the famed institutions front entrance, and blocked street traffic.
Other videos from Thursday showed confrontations in the nearby Diamond District, where Jewish store owners have had a longstanding presence, between people in cars carrying Palestinian flags and passers-by on the street.
Another video from Thursday's protests showed people scrambling to get some distance as a "professional grade firework" went off. A 55-year-old woman suffered burns to her back related to the firework explosion, according to police, who are now looking for the man who set off the firework, who was riding in a truck that was part of a convoy waving Palestinian flags.
Five members of the NYPD were also injured amid the clashes, but the extent of their injuries was not known.
The clash between protesters come as Israel and Hamas have announced a cease-fire to end a bruising 11-day war that caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip.