Cleanup Underway In NYC After Sidewalks, Businesses Vandalized Amid Protests

Kristie Keleshian
May 31, 2020 - 1:51 pm
Vandalized UGG store in SoHo

Kristie Keleshian/WCBS 880

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Cleanup is underway across New York City after late night protests ravaged many neighborhoods, including Union Square where demonstrators left behind melted trash cans and vandalized sidewalks and buildings.

Milton Fernandez could be seen cleaning up  the words "Old NY hates the police" spray painted on the HSBC building on the corner of Union Square West and East 15th Street. He and his coworker had been doing so since 6 a.m. Sunday.

Fernandez said he supports protesting in what he calls "the right way," without having to vandalize buildings and harm others.

"This is not smart. You're destroying your own place where you work at, you live, you eat. You know, this our place. Do it the right way," said Fernandez. "My word to, you know, my brothers and sisters: you know, I'm from the hood. I'm from Astoria. You know, just do it the right way. Protest, but there's no need to vandalize the buildings and spray paint everywhere."

Cleanup in Union Square
Kristie Keleshian/WCBS 880

A man named Edward who has been living in Union Square for the past five years said he's seen his fair share of protests in the neighborhood.

"But what happened last night was not anything like we've seen before and I don't think it was representative of most of the people who were protesting the event," he said.

Edward was walking around Union Square Park with his dog and young son. He said although his son is too young to remember what's going on now , he knows it will be a lot to explain to him when he's older.

Edward said he walked his dog at around 11 p.m. Saturday and saw a lot of protesters waiting for the subway. He assumes those who have vandalized the buildings and burned trash cans in the neighborhood were not from the area.

"It's unfortunate that they can come to this area, destroy what's generally an area enjoyed by a lot of people and just look to leave. It's a shame," Edward said. "They clearly weren't from this area."

Mayor Bill de Blasio said most of the protesters were peaceful and that many of the ones causing problems “associate with the anarchist movement.”

“In this case, we got a lot of people who are organized. They plan together online. They have very explicit rules,” de Blasio said. “Some come from outside the city, some are from inside the city.”

“We do know that there is an explicit agenda of violence, and it does not conform with the history of this city in which we have always honored nonviolent protests,” de Blasio said.

Washington Square Park Arch vandalized
Kristie Keleshian/WCBS 880

Washington Square Park was also hit hard with hateful messages left behind on its iconic landmarks. Crews could be seen washing off the words "F--k cops" spray paintined in black letters from the arch and "F--k" the police" spray painted in white on the fountain. The words "Kill cops" were also scrawled in green on the sidewalk.

Vandalizers and looters made their way into some of the city's most high-end stores in SoHo, where police are now stationed throughout the neighborhood.

The storefront window of the UGG store on Mercer Street was completely shattered, leaving bare mannequins and clothes hanging out covered in broken glass. Some of the store's furniture inside was also spray painted.

Other businesses have boarded up their windows.

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