NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Clashes marred what started out as a peaceful unity march in Brooklyn on Wednesday morning.
Demonstrators took to the streets to call for an end to the staggering increase in gun violence across the city, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.
A unity march has stepped off from Cadman Plaza, led by a diverse group of faith leaders, along with law enforcement and citizens. Their message is to come together to stop the violence in the city, and listen to one another @CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/BJJusEMcsN
— Natalie Duddridge (@NatDuddridgeTV) July 15, 2020
Tensions started to build as the group began to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and were met by counter protesters.
As the march started, a diverse group of faith leaders — Christian, Muslim, Jewish — and law enforcement, police unions, Black Veterans for For Social Justice, and citizens came together. They all gathered at Cadman Plaza to call for a stop to the violence in the city and to have deeper conversations about racial justice and police reforms.
PROTESTS AND PAIN
As they started to march up the ramp to the bridge, they were paused by police due to an emergency incident and broke into prayer.
Chopper 2 over the scene showed counter protesters walking into traffic and sitting down in the roadway, blocking vehicles on the bridge.
The counter protesters told CBS2 they feel that the unity march was too supportive of the police. At least 34 people were arrested and eventually the march was able to proceed over the bridge to City Hall.
The NYPD released video of some officers being attacked by a person with a stick while the officers were making an arrest. Police said four officers were injured, and released photos showing several bleeding from the head.
Three officers violently attacked by protesters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. The officers sustained serious injuries.
This is not peaceful protest, this will not be tolerated. pic.twitter.com/cYuDX8G7ku
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 15, 2020
Chief of Department Terence Monahan was among the injured, suffering a sprained hand.
“If the mayor were doing his job properly, we wouldn’t have these issues. If the DAs were prosecuting the laws, we wouldn’t have these issues. What we are seeing right now is chaos in the city of New York and the victims are minorities,” said Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
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On one side of the street near City Hall, clergy preached the gospel. On the other side, there was another standoff with police and the window of a government building was smashed.
A small group of about protesters from the “Defund the Police” encampment refused to speak with the news media about what they were protesting. At one point, all media members were stopped from going on the bridge to cover the protest. Duddridge learned that in some cases protesters have been posing as journalists and police don’t know who is who, creating further challengers for officers.
The leader of march, Bishop Gerald Seabrooks, the president of the United Clergy Coalition, said the kind of polarization and division seen Wednesday is what they are trying to overcome and why more conversations between community and police are necessary.
“Let’s stop the violence. The people who are getting hurt right now while people are coming against the police officers is the African-American community,” Seabrooks said. “We are fed up and tired of seeing a 1-year-old shot, a 12-year-old paralyzed. No, we need the police. What we’re saying is we don’t want police brutality.”
Seabrooks said he is calling on preachers to get out of their pulpits and on to the streets to bring healing. Faith leaders, police, and community leaders all recognize that the march and rally are just symbolic, adding the real work will happen behind the scenes with meetings, conversations, and, most importantly, listening.