Dozens of people protesting the killing of George Floyd have been arrested in New York City on Wednesday after a curfew went into effect, including reportedly dozens in Cadman Plaza in a confrontation with police.
“Right now we have the wrong president, the wrong governor, and the wrong mayor,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said after the protest, lambasting the NYPD response and the curfew. “What happened to the mayor? What happened to the man who ran on the blood and tears of black lives?”
- LIVE UPDATES: George Floyd Protests in New York City
- Protests Continue as Minnesota Attorney General Announces New Charges in Killing of George Floyd
Around 9:30 p.m., 90 minutes after the curfew took effect, hundreds of police officers pushed back demonstrators in the pouring rain in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. There were published reports of more than 60 arrests, although the exact number was not confirmed as of this writing. The NYPD officers, wielding batons, were seen pushing protesters off their bikes.
Williams, who claimed some protesters and officers were injured, blamed the confrontation on officers having to enforce the curfew. The extent of any injuries were not confirmed as of 10:20 p.m.
He said people were arrested and shoved despite not looting and protesting peacefully.
Also in downtown Brooklyn, officers arrested roughly a dozen people on an MTA bus. The circumstances of what led to the arrests were not known as of this writing.
Shortly after 8 p.m., on Central Park South and Fifth Avenue, dozens of demonstraters who were marching were also arrested. One upset protester said they were taken into custody despite peacefully marching. These protesters had marched up north to Midtown from Union Square.
Police were heard yelling at them, “Why would you break the curfew? It’s at 8 p.m. and you know that!”
It was not confirmed if the NYPD was charging them for violating curfew, but some demonstraters had yelled that they were not going to obey it.
The arrests Wednesday contrast inconsistent enforcement of the curfew the day before. For example, officers near the Manhattan Bridge on Tuesday mostly did not arrest demonstraters for being outside, while about 20 people were arrested at 14th Street and 5th Avenue near Union Square for being out after the curfew, according to one protester. There were about 280 arrests in the city Tuesday, down from 700 on Monday, although the NYPD did not clarify which of those arrests were for looting, breaking curfew, or for protesters.
As of 9:05 p.m., there were no reports of looting in the city, although looting has been seen in the city after sunset several days in a row. Demonstrations in the afternoon, such as on Staten Island, were also peaceful.
Meanwhile in Manhattan, a crowd of thousands around 7 p.m. Wednesday staged a silent sit-in at the 86th Street entrance to Carl Schurz Park, where Gracie Mansion, home to Mayor de Blasio and his family, is located. They were closely followed by NYPD officers in trucks and on motorcycles and bicycles.
Shortly after 8 p.m., the start of a curfew, at least 1,000 were still marching downtown, with people around 79th Street seen cheering them on. New York City will see a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day this week through Sunday, but scores of protesters have ignored it the past several days.
In Brooklyn, hundreds of protesters once again gathered outside the Barclays Center, which has acted as kind of a stopping point for marchers who then continue on into Manhattan.
About ten minutes before the curfew, thousands of people, pronouncing their disdain for the curfew, left their gathering outside the home of the Brooklyn Nets and marched north up Flatbush Avenue. Their exact destination was unclear as of this writing, but Tuesday protesters took a similar route towards the Manhattan Bridge.
Other parts of the city, however, seemed to obey the curfew. The intersection of Third Avenue and 93rd in Manhattan was empty shortly after 8:35 p.m.
Earlier in the day, de Blasio had argued the curfew Tuesday appeared to have worked.
“Last night we took a step forward in moving out of this difficult period we’ve had the last few days,” he said, “and we’re moving to a better time.”
While there were sporadic reports of looting and vandalism Tuesday, nonviolent protests ruled the day, with more than 10,000 marching the length of the city.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said on Tuesday that the mayor and the NYPD were “not doing their job,” said Wednesday he had a conversation with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
In his daily press conference, he decried the actions of looters, saying they are “trying to exploit this moment for their own selfish gain.”
He also praised the police response Tuesday night, calling the NYPD “the best.”
“New York City last night was much better,” he said. “Protesters remained peaceful. Police had the resources to do their jobs, and the people in New York City should feel much better today than they did the night before.”
He said his issue was with the “management and deployment, not the officers.”
Business owners were not taking any chances. Department stores like Macy’s, which was looted and vandalized on Monday night, was boarded up, as was Bloomingdales. Saks Fifth Avenue was boarded up and surrounded by a razor wire-topped fence. The store also hired its own phalanx of security guards.
Meanwhile, earlier Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded “I can’t breathe,” have been elevated from third-degree murder to second-degree murder, and that the other three officers involved in Floyd’s death will be charged with aiding and abetting a murder.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Floyd family, released a statement thanking Ellison, calling the upgraded charges “a significant step on the road to justice.”
The statement read, in part, “this is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd. We are gratified that this significant action was taken before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest.”
In the statement, the family also expressed gratitude to Ellison for continuing to work to upgrade the charge to first degree murder and encouraged supporters not to give up the fight for justice.
“These officers knew they could act with impunity, given the Minneapolis Police Department’s widespread and prolonged pattern and practice of violating people’s constitutional rights,” the statement continued. “Therefore, we also demand permanent transparent police accountability at all levels and at all times.”