NYC Protests Over George Floyd's Death Lead to Hundreds of Arrests, Multiple Injured Officers, Vandalized NYPD Property

May 30, 2020 - 3:09 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s launching an independent review “of the events of last night” after protests over the death of George Floyd—an unarmed black man in police custody in Minneapolis—led to violence and numerous arrests in Brooklyn.

“I want to know exactly what happened, why it happened and what can be done better,” the mayor said. “I want there to be accountability for anyone, whatever their status.”

De Blasio said "last night was a difficult complex situation," adding that peaceful protesters had legitimate reasons to protest that were overshadowed by the actions of a few "who came there obviously to incite acts of violence."

"We have to do better," de Blasio said of videos showing NYPD officers acting violently towards protesters.

The mayor said he was upset by videos of the confrontations “where protesters were handled very violently” by police and by reports that at least two elected officials were among the people sprayed with irritating chemicals by officers at the scene.

“That’s unacceptable, and we need to understand exactly why that happened,” the mayor said.

But de Blasio added some protesters had come “with an agenda of violence and incitement, and they meant to harm police officers, and they did harm police officers.”

"I'm asking Attorney General James to review all the actions and procedures that were used last night, because the public deserves answers and they deserve accountability," Cuomo said at his daily coronavirus briefing.

Cuomo said he spoke with de Blasio about the violence.

"He wants an independent review of what happened yesterday," Cuomo said. "I agree and we agree that the attorney general is an independently elected official in the state of New York."

Cuomo said he wants the findings of James' independent review back in 30 days. It will review "police procedures" as well as "the crowd's actions."

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, who joined de Blasio on Saturday, called videos of some police behavior "disturbing" and said an internal investigation within the department had already been launched.

The commissioner said a protest of about 3,000 people splintered into smaller protests Friday night.

He said there were over 200 arrests and multiple officers injured.

One of the arrests was for the attempted murder of four police officers who were in a marked police van. Shea said someone threw a Molotov cocktail at the van with the officers inside but they avoided injuries.

Shea said firearms and brass knuckles were recovered and that countless bricks and other items were thrown at police officers.

The commissioner said there were a number of protests planned for Saturday "that are possibly going to take off." He said some people were coming from out of town to cause problems.

Brooklyn Barlcays
Photo credit AP

Video posted to social media showed officers using batons and shoving protesters as they took people into custody and cleared streets. One video showed on officer slam a woman to the ground as he walked past her in the street.

Later in the evening, what had been a tense situation turned worse. Demonstrators rocked a police van, set it ablaze, then scrawled graffiti across its charred hulk and set it on fire a second time as officers retreated from the area. Blocks away, protesters used a club to batter a police cruiser.

At another location near the arena, a shouting mob of protesters, some wearing helmets and carrying makeshift shields, advanced on officers shouting and throwing objects, and police retaliated with batons and arrests, leaving the roadway strewn with debris.

Protests around George Floyd’s death have taken place around the country and were not quelled by the news Friday that the Minneapolis officer recorded kneeling on his neck would face criminal charges.

New York Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Christopher Dunn blamed the police department for provoking the confrontations in Brooklyn.

“The mayor needs to take accountability for the NYPD’s provocation, aggression, and violence on display tonight. If he’s serious about his demands for accountability in Minnesota, he needs to show leadership here in New York City,” he said in a statement.

Anticipating demonstrations Friday afternoon, De Blasio said police officers had been told to respect peaceful protest, but he also had a message for demonstrators: “If you are angry with the government, if you are angry with the elected leaders, direct that anger to all of us, because if we haven’t done enough, we are the ones who should be held responsible,” he said. “But the police officer in front of you is a working man or woman just trying to do their job.”

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