George Floyd Protests in N.Y.C.: Unrest in Brooklyn as de Blasio Appeals for Calm – The New York Times

[The latest: Protests Over George Floyd Death Reach Trump Tower and Across N.Y.C.]

Protesters angry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis clashed with the police across Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan on Friday night in a series of chaotic skirmishes and standoffs that left people injured on both sides.

For the second night in a row, tensions flared in New York City, as thousands of people attended a raucous demonstration at the perimeter of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, later splitting into several smaller violent protests. Some hurled bottles and debris at police officers, who responded with pepper spray and arrests.

At least one protester attempted to throw a homemade firebomb into a police car with four officers inside, the police said. Another man hurled a second firebomb at a police cruiser, causing the back seat to ignite, the police said. An unoccupied police van was set on fire and at least two other police vehicles were vandalized, their windows shattered, all in surrounding areas near the arena, including the Fort Greene neighborhood.

The protests and violence were part of a wave of demonstrations across the country in the wake of the death on Monday of Mr. Floyd, a black man who pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” while a white police officer pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck. The incident was captured on video.

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Credit…Justin Heiman/Getty Images
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Credit…Frank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

“I’m just really tired of sitting at home and just doing nothing, basically watching this happen,” said Jason Phillips, 27, of Queens, who was at the Manhattan protest. “I need to be a part of history. I need to be a part of the change.”

Police officers made more than 200 arrests — most of them on minor charges, but at least seven for felonies — and the department estimated that about 3,000 people took part in the demonstrations, the police said Saturday morning.

A police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he had not been authorized to release information, said the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau was investigating at least two incidents of apparent excessive force that were captured on video — one in which a burly officer violently pushed a slight woman to the ground and another in which an officer beat a man with his baton.

Two state legislators were caught in the chaos, officials said. Senator Zellnor Myrie, a Democrat from Brooklyn, was handcuffed, and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, a Democrat whose district is in Brooklyn, was hit by pepper spray.

More protests were planned for Saturday across the city. Early in the afternoon, hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the Adam Clayton Powell Building in Harlem holding signs with messages including “STOP KILLING US” and “NO MORE.” Cars drove by with signs reading “justice for George Floyd” signs on their doors, honking horns in solidarity.

On Saturday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio denounced the previous night’s violence by both protesters and police officers, saying he understood the deep anger over racism and police killings that had spurred the demonstrations while urging people to protest peacefully.

The mayor promised that police officers who had used unnecessary force during the clashes would be held to account for misconduct, and he announced an independent inquiry into how the police had handled the protests.

“Any aggressive act toward a peaceful protester sends exactly the wrong message,” Mr. de Blasio said, referring to videos that show violent acts of apparent police abuse captured on videotape. “We will not accept that kind of behavior. It is unacceptable.”

But Mr. de Blasio and the police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, also said that hundreds of demonstrators had come to the rallies with the intent to brawl with police officers. A firearm was recovered from one protester, and a set of brass knuckles from another. Some protesters came with bricks, which they threw at officers, Mr. Shea said. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an occupied police van at around 1 a.m., Mr. Shea said.

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Credit…Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

“Some protesters came last night with an agenda of violence,” the mayor said. “They meant to attack police officers.”

He added: “They were there to incite violence. We cannot and will not allow that.”

Samantha Shader, 27, from the Catskills region, was arrested on charges she had thrown a firebomb at a police van and faces four accounts of attempted murder, assault and arson, the police said. The Molotov cocktail thrown by Ms. Shader shattered a rear window of the van, the police said. The officers then jumped out of the vehicle, and Ms. Shader bit one of them on the left leg as they took her into custody.

Her 21-year-old sister attempted to interfere with the arrest, police said, and was also taken into custody.

The police said a few minutes later, in another section of Brooklyn, a second man threw another homemade firebomb at an empty police vehicle and ignited a small blaze in the back seat. Officers arrested the man and a companion at the scene.

Protests Over Racism and Police Violence

Protests have erupted in at least 75 cities across the United States in the days after George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, prompting the activation of the National Guard in at least 10 states.


Protests since Wednesday

National Guard activated





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By Weiyi Cai, Juliette Love, Jugal K. Patel and Yuliya Parshina-Kottas

The protests in New York City had begun peacefully on Friday afternoon, with hundreds chanting, “Black lives matter,” and, “We want justice,” around Foley Square in Lower Manhattan.

City Councilman Donovan Richards, a Queens Democrat who chairs the Council’s public safety committee, said the city’s black communities were feeling under siege by what they see as excessive policing.

“I’m feeling their growing tension,” said Mr. Richards, who is black. “It is difficult to be a black American at the moment. We are getting hit hard. We are seeing that our lives are not valued.”

The unrest grew hours later in Brooklyn. As protesters arrived at Barclays Center, police officers with twist-tie handcuffs hanging from their belts stood next to Department of Corrections buses and squad cars with lights flashing. A police helicopter and a large drone whirred in the hot air overhead.

People in the crowd chanted against the Police Department, clapped loudly and shook signs. To a row of police men and women, one woman held a mirror with red paint that read, “Look at yourself.”

Several signs said, “I can’t breathe.” Some demonstrators put their hands in the air and chanted, “Don’t shoot.” Then some began throwing debris at officers.

By midnight, several uniformed officers had been injured, said a police official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give out information. One officer was punched on the nose, another lost a tooth during an altercation and a third was injured in a leg and was being treated for dislocation.

Dozens of protesters were seen being taken into custody at different rallies around Foley Square and in neighborhoods near the arena throughout the night. Videos posted online showed a demonstrator being beaten with batons as he was taken into custody. Another showed an officer punching a protester.

As that crowd scattered, people gathered in the streets in the nearby Fort Greene neighborhood, continuing to chant at the police.

Justin Simone, 22, marched with a crowd of a few hundred protesters from Barclays to Classon and Madison Streets, where — chanting the names “George Floyd” and “Breonna Taylor,” a black woman fatally shot by three white officers in Louisville, Ky. — they tried to block traffic. Police officers with plastic shields dispersed them. Mr. Simone said he was protesting the police “because they get away with murder.”

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Credit…Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

“People need to be held accountable for what goes on,” he said. “We’re peaceful protesting. Everybody is practicing their First Amendment.”

The burned police van was still smoking near Fort Greene Park on Friday night after two Fire Department trucks closed the nearby water mains and pulled away. Protesters slammed its doors off their hinges, threw fireworks into the charred seats, flattened the tires and placed a sign down that read, “Black Lives Matter.”

At least two vandalized police vans sat on the streets around the 88th Precinct station house at Classon and Dekalb avenues, their windows smashed and anti-police graffiti scrawled in red paint on their sides. The station house was the focus of a prolonged standoff between protesters and the police.

By 10 p.m., riot police had descended on the neighborhood. A police official had described the scene in parts of the borough as “out of control.”

A different law enforcement official briefed on the protests said the Police Department would investigate video footage that captured an officer throwing a young woman to the ground who later required medical care.

Friday’s altercations followed the arrests of 72 people the night before during a rally in Manhattan’s Union Square. Five of those arrested on Thursday night were facing charges of assaulting police officers, said the department’s highest-ranking officer, Chief Terence A. Monahan.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jo Corona, Luis Ferré Sadurní, Sean Piccoli, William K. Rashbaum, Andy Newman Pia Peterson, Aaron Randle and Nate Schweber contributed reporting.