George Floyd protests updates: Peaceful protests march on, looters largely absent during curfew in NYC

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Peaceful protests march on, looters largely absent during NYC curfew
Josh Einiger reports thousands of people walked peacefully in large groups across Manhattan and Brooklyn long after the curfew took effect at 8:00 p.m. in New York City on Tuesday.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Hundreds of people walked peacefully in large groups across Manhattan and Brooklyn long after the curfew took effect at 8:00 p.m. in New York City on Tuesday, while clashes and looting remained largely absent from the scene.

In some cases like at the base of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, police only blocked the path of the protesters but did nothing to arrest them which led to a standoff on the Manhattan Bridge.

Mike Marza has the latest details on protests in New York City including a tense standoff between protesters and police on Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge.

Cross streets were blocked on the Upper West Side where one group marched past the Channel 7 studios toward Midtown. They were trailed by police

Most streets into SoHo were taped off in a major law enforcement initiative tonight to keep the neighborhood from falling victim to a third night of vandalism

Even before the 8 p.m. curfew, police chased down numerous suspects and recovered apparent burglary tools - like hammers, bats and tools - from cars

Many people ran at the sight of police, who chased them down and made arrests

And for anyone who attempted to enter, officers standing next to taped off streets had a message - SoHo is closed tonight.

In some locations, officers started ordering people to move along, and began taking people into custody. Demonstrators who had been on the West Side Highway in lower Manhattan were herded off, with parts of the roadway blocked off behind them.

"Something has to break, and it's not going to be us," said Evan Kutcher, one of hundreds of demonstrators who stood outside the Barclays Center chanting Floyd's name Tuesday evening. "We're here because something needs to change. We hear Cuomo and de Blasio everyday saying what's happening is unacceptable but with no actionable plan from them."

Other high profile areas like Times Square remained empty, access blocked off by police.

Uber, Lyft and other for-hire vehicles have been banned from 8 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday night across all five boroughs.

New York City extended an 8:00 p.m. curfew through Sunday and announced most vehicles would be banned south of 96th Street in Manhattan during the curfew. The exceptions would be residents, essential workers, busses, and truck deliveries.

Looting appeared to be kept to a minimum with scattered reports in Lower Manhattan, but as of 10:00 p.m., there was nothing like previous nights.

Earlier, thousands of George Floyd protesters marched toward the mayor's residence, Gracie Mansion, where they remained peaceful and took a knee.

As thousands of protesters gathered to protest the death of George Floyd on Tuesday, protest leaders marched toward Gracie Mansion.

One demonstrator said if there is violence when they break curfew, he wanted Mayor Bill de Blasio to see it firsthand.

The unprecedented curfew in New York City on Monday did little to prevent destruction as groups of people smashed their way into shops including Macy's flagship Manhattan store, grabbed merchandise and fled. Police said more than 700 were arrested and several officers were injured during the chaos Monday night and early Tuesday that followed another day of peaceful protests throughout the city over the death of George Floyd.

Dave Evans has the latest on protests across New York City and the actions being taken by city leaders

New York Governor Cuomo sharply criticized the NYPD's response to widespread looting across New York City on Monday night saying "the NYPD and mayor did not do their job."

Mayor Bill de Blasio shot back during a radio interview on Tuesday night calling Cuomo's comments "disgraceful."

"He dishonored the men and women of the NYPD in an absolute inappropriate way for any elected official who blames the NYPD while they were out there fighting on the streets in order to protect people, and I think that's disgraceful," de Blasio said. " I think he owes an apology to 36,000 hard working men and women who have been putting their lives on the line fo us."

During his daily briefing, the mayor was asked why it seemed like some were able to loot with impunity. He refuted that adamantly and said the police acted once they were in place.

"There were multiple, multiple arrests for those acts," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. "We will protect all property owners of this city."

The mayor added that he wants local clergy members and community leaders to "come to the fore" and speak out and stand up against the looters.

Josh Einiger has more on the New York City protests and the looting and vandalism that took place overnight.

Despite extra police presence on Monday, there were widespread reports of looting at luxury stores across Manhattan.

The NYPD Intelligence Bureau is collecting license plate numbers from vehicles that carried vandals, looters and thieves around Manhattan in the last two days, a police official told ABC News.

It was a wild scene on 34th near Macy's Herald Square. Dozens of people could be seen running down the street with officers chasing after them. At one point the FDNY had to be called in to put out a trash can fire. Multiple stores were broken into, ransacked and items taken. At Macy's, the store was boarded up but still looters gained access to the store.

The violence spread to Fordham Road, the Grand Concourse and other areas in the Bronx, where an NYPD sergeant was struck and injured by a vehicle.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark urged the community for peaceful protests Tuesday.

Video from NewsCopter 7 showed pharmacies, beauty supply stores, delicatessens and other businesses with their front windows smashed and items strewn across the street.

Residents in the area woke up to a scene Tuesday morning that looked like a tornado had struck, with debris, smashed glass and the contents of neighborhood stores strewn across streets.

This all began just before curfew hit around 10:30 Monday evening and continued into the overnight hours.

"Some people are out tonight not to protest but to destroy property and hurt others - and those people are being arrested," Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted late Monday. "Their actions are unacceptable and we won't allow them in our city."

Roving bands of people struck stores in Manhattan and the Bronx, even though many stores were boarded up preemptively as merchants feared more destruction.

Video posted on social media showed some protesters arguing with people breaking windows, urging them to stop, but instances of vandalism and smash-and-grab thefts mounted as the night deepened.

"We worked hard to build up the business and within a second someone does this," said the owner of a looted Manhattan smoke shop, who identified himself only by the name Harri. "Really bad."

"People in New York City are good and decent people, the people of New York City stand up no matter what is thrown at them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

When he mentioned the people speaking negatively about the city and the events of the past few days, "To hell with all of them," the mayor said. "I'm sick of people attacking the people of New York."

"We need people to stand, stand with their police, and condemn these senseless acts," said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

De Blasio and Cuomo said the outbreaks of violence the previous two evenings - which left stores ransacked and police vehicles burned - gave them no choice to impose a curfew, even as they insisted they stood with the throngs of peaceful demonstrators who have spoken out for several days against police brutality and racial injustice.

The violence threatened to overshadow the anger over the death of Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck. Authorities believe it is the result of well-organized groups infiltrating peaceful protests, turning them into a riot.

Some officers in New York City and around the nation have sought to show solidarity with demonstrators protesting Floyd's death while urging calm.

New York City's highest-ranking uniformed member, Chief of Department Terence Monahan, clasped hands with protesters and took a knee Monday in Manhattan's Washington Square Park. "The people who live in New York want New York to end the violence," Monahan said.

In an emotional display of support, one of New York City's top cops took a knee with protesters at Washington Square Park.

On Tuesday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was joined by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Eric Garner's mother Gwen Carr, and other officials in pushing for a group of bills aimed at increasing police accountability -- including a ban on chokeholds and all police maneuvers that restrict breathing.

Eyewitness News has also learned that effective immediately regular days off have been canceled for all NYPD full duty uniformed members. That means uniformed NYPD police officers are working seven days a week, 12 hour shifts, until further notice. This is not unprecedented. Regular day offs were cancelled for several months following Sept 11th.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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