5th Day Of Peaceful Protests Overshadowed By Looting, Destruction As NYC Imposes Curfew

Steve Burns
June 02, 2020 - 1:59 pm
Looted Kate Spade Store

Steve Burns/WCBS 880

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — There was another chaotic night in New York City on Monday as an unprecedented citywide curfew failed to stem the violence and looting that has followed mostly peaceful daytime demonstrations, which were sparked by the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

 Police said hundreds of people were arrested and several officers were injured. 

It seemed the curfew could not keep people off the streets. As it took effect at 11 p.m., a protest march could be seen making its way up 7th Avenue with looting happening on the side. 

"It just seems like the goal of police now is the least common denominator, which is just get people out of these stores and stop looting. It seems like the curfew is kind of an afterthought right now when you have this much looting and this much chaos going on around you," WCBS 880's Steve Burns reported. "Police, their main objective right now, is to find and stop these looters."

A video posted to social media a short time later showed police apparently making arrests for curfew violations.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter late Monday night to ask protesters to go home.

"We support peaceful protest in this city. But right now it’s time to go home. Some people are out tonight not to protest but to destroy property and hurt others — and those people are being arrested. Their actions are unacceptable and we won't allow them in our city," he said.

Earlier in the afternoon, the protests got off to a peaceful start, as large crowds rallied in Times Square and Brooklyn, marching through the streets for several hours with officers staying on the sidelines, mostly keeping their distance from marchers.

From Times Square, protesters made their way through several neighborhoods, including past Union Square where several storefronts were looted the previous night, before eventually filling Washington Square Park, which was the scene of a powerful moment when NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan took a knee in solidarity with protesters.

After winding its way through Manhattan for about four hours, the march came to an abrupt end outside the 13th Precinct police station where demonstrators were met with a barricade from the NYPD.

"I'd say largely unprovoked the NYPD came out and got some cruisers and sped them straight up to the group, stopped, got out, working urgently to break up the crowd and that march quickly dissipated on the East Side," Burns reported.

In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, protesters marched peacefully along Eastern Parkway holding a banner reading, "Stop Killing Black People." At one point the group stopped outside and took a knee outside the NYPD's 77th Precinct and also gathered at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

There was also a sit-in at the Barclays Center, which was the scene of some tense moments between police and protesters several nights prior.

Following an ugly night of chaos, vandalism, looting and violence that resulted in hundreds of arrests, officials on Monday afternoon announced a citywide curfew for 11p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, and 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday. The NYPD has also doubled its police presence.

Despite the added measures, there was mayhem on the streets with looting and violence erupting as night fell. Midtown Manhattan was the epicenter of chaos as looting took center stage from Union Square, to Herald Square, to Times Square.

Several stores including Kate Spade and Michael Kors were targeted on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. Broken glass was scattered along the sidewalk of New York City's iconic shopping district, where the alarms were still going off inside the Best Buy as workers arrived with plywood to board up the store after it was completely ransacked.

"It is a sea of flashing lights and police officers and the aftermath of some serious looting," Burns reported. "The plywood is being put up in front of giant windows at Best Buy, but that's coming a bit too late as looters got inside."

Arrests were also made as looters made their way inside the Macy's flagship store in Herald Square. Police pulled two handcuffed men out and put them in a van.

The Foot Locker and Sprint store on West 34th Street were also looted.

At 41st Street and 7th Avenue in Times Square, a souvenir shop was completely ransacked. The window was completely shattered and inside, a 10-foot-high Statue of Liberty was missing her torch.

"That really says it all and is emblematic of this evening," Burns reported. "Everywhere you turn you'll see broken glass, you'll see trash all over the street, you may see a garbage can on fire, and you'll see police cars speeding up and down the road... It is an entirely different world than what anyone would recognize of Times Square."

Burns reported 37th Street and Broadway looked like a war zone, with trash cans burning, security alarms blaring, and sirens echoing in the distance. One woman said it seemed like hundreds of people had made their way through the area, ransacking anything and everything in sight.

"This is just a surreal, chaotic night in New York City," Burns reported.

By midnight, Burns reported that it was quiet in Times Square after officers set up what seemed like miles of barricades. There were also dozens of officers standing at every corner.

Just south of Union Square, protesters were seen trying to stop people from breaking into a store and looting was also reported along Fordham Road in the Bronx, where fires were also burning.

When a reporter suggested that he saw people seemingly stealing with impunity, de Blasio during his news conference Tuesday said that, "There is no such thing as being able to loot with impunity."

"When our officers got where they needed to be, they acted,. I'm never going to accept anyone even implying that's something that would be tolerated," de Blasio said. "Nothing is done without consequences."

Shea said officers are doing the best that they can under incredibly difficult circumstances.

"The officers are out there, they are affecting arrests, they are putting themselves in harm's way, they are being attacked, they are also putting their lives on the line to make sure that people have the right to protest against them," Shea said.

Throughout the night, there were also reports of items being thrown at officers.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association also shared a video of an officer being attacked by at least three people in the Bronx.

An NYPD sergeant was also seriously injured in a hit-and-run in the Bronx.

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