George Floyd protests updates: NYC protesters defy curfew again, sparking clashes with police

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, June 5, 2020
de Blasio, Cuomo defend police actions against protesters
Peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd drew thousands of people on Wednesday, but were broken up by police as rain poured down about an hour after the city's 8 p.m. curfe

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Peaceful protesters took to the streets of New York City on Thursday as part of a day of mourning for George Floyd, but once the curfew went into effect, those who refused to go home sparked clashes with police.

Protesters continued past the 8 p.m. curfew Thursday, even after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to deflect criticism over harsh tactics from police enforcing it.

Thousands of protesters were out after curfew, and so were police.

At some locations, officials watched, but didn't immediately move in. Police gave protesters a cushion: when 8 p.m. strikes, they start announcing the curfew and then verbally remind protesters it's time to go home.

But by 8:30 p.m., they started making arrests. On the Upper East Side, about a dozen people were taken into custody peacefully:

At other spots, like Washington Square Park and near the Plaza Hotel, they made orderly arrests without the batons and riot gear, like a night earlier.

Protests on Wednesday were broken up by police as rain poured down about an hour after the city's 8 p.m. curfew started.

Some refusing police orders were shoved, and some were hit with batons. At times police used tactics like pepper spray that had brought outrage previously.

Police arrested 180 people.

Related: 'No more tolerance:' NYPD breaks up peaceful protests after 8 p.m. curfew

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the NYPD's use of force was justified, but officials are reviewing about seven instances that may result in discipline. He said without a doubt, there will be a couple officers suspended.

The scene unfolded in Cadman Plaza, where Thursday thousands gathered for a memorial service and march to honor George Floyd.

"Overwhelmingly peaceful," Mayor de Blasio said of the protests. "A very few acts of vandalism." He said that he thought the curfew worked.

Mike Marza reports that hours after Wednesday's curfew went into effect, thousands of people still continued to defy the curfew in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

But, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who witnessed some of the arrests, tweeted, "I can't believe what I just witnessed & experienced. The force used on nonviolent protestors was disgusting. No looting/no fires. Chants of 'peaceful protest'..."

Williams also called the curfew ill-advised and said he was ashamed of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Josh Einiger reports mostly peaceful protests continued after curfew for a second night in New York City.

The mayor said police have used "a lot of restraint" overall and added, "but if there's anything that needs to be reviewed, it will be."

Cuomo said, "If they hit somebody, if somebody's standing there and they just walked up to somebody and hit them with a baton, clearly that's wrong. But I don't believe that's what happened. If they did that, it's wrong."

The governor and mayor said protesters should abide by the 8 p.m. curfew put in place earlier this week to deter the violence, vandalism and destruction that followed protests Sunday and Monday nights.

"If you are violating the curfew and you refuse to leave so you continue to violate the curfew, the police officers have to enforce the law, which is: you're supposed to off the street," Cuomo said.

The mayor said, "If at a certain point, officers say, 'It's time, people need to go now,' people need to listen to that."

The citywide curfew, New York's first in decades, is set to remain in effect through at least Sunday, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of shutdowns because of the coronavirus.

Wednesday night unfolded without the vandalism and smash-and-grab sprees that forced merchants around the city to board their stores up preemptively, but police said a man ambushed officers on an anti-looting patrol in Brooklyn shortly before midnight, stabbing him in the neck. The attacker was shot by responding officers and was in critical condition. Two officers suffered gunshot wounds to their hands in the chaos, but all three wounded officers were expected to recover.

Officer Yayonfrant Jean Pierre, who was stabbed in the neck, and the other wounded officers, Randy Ramnarine and Dexter Chiu, were expected to recover. De Blasio said he was "not going to theorize on" possible motives for the attack.

"Our officers were simply trying to protect our community," the mayor said. "The officers who were wounded represent all that is great about the city."

Earlier Wednesday, peaceful marches took place citywide with no reports of violence or looting, demonstrators making their voices heard.

In the early evening, hundreds rallied outside Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence, on the Upper East Side shortly before the curfew started at 8:00 p.m.

Marchers sat in silence for several minutes in front of the mansion - many with fists and signs raised - in honor of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis after a police officer pushed his knee into his neck for several minutes.

Prosecutors charged the officer with a new more serious charge of second-degree murder on Wednesday, and for the first time leveled charges against three other officers at the scene, according to criminal complaints.

The updated criminal complaint against Derek Chauvin says the officer's actions were a "substantial causal factor" in Floyd's death.

Hundreds of protesters were in Manhattan's Washington Square Park when the charges were announced.

"It's not enough," protester Jonathan Roldan said, contending all four officers should've been charged from the start. "Right now, we're still marching because it's not enough that they got arrested. There needs to be systematic change."

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