Widespread Looting Hits Manhattan Before Curfew Begins: Live Updates

Mayor Bill de Blasio said a citywide curfew would be imposed again on Tuesday, this time at 8 p.m. rather than 11 p.m.

The flagship Macy’s store in Herald Square and Bergdorf Goodman were among the looters’ targets on Monday.

New York City hit an 11 p.m. curfew on Monday after widespread looting erupted in the central business district of Manhattan, long a symbol of the city’s prominence, with shattered glass and smashed storefronts on several blocks.

Looters attempted to ransack some of the city’s best-known retailers, including the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square and a number of luxury stores along Fifth Avenue.

Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that the Monday night curfew, which had been announced earlier in the day, had failed to quell the criminal violence that marred the otherwise peaceful protests of previous nights. As a result, he said, a curfew would be imposed again on Tuesday, this time starting three hours earlier, at 8 p.m.

“We’re seeing too much of this activity tonight,” the mayor said in an interview on NY1.

The Monday night protests were mostly peaceful. There were few reports of clashes between the authorities and those who had assembled to rally against police brutality and racism. The crowds had largely dispersed by the time 11 p.m. struck, although some protesters continued to walk the streets in Manhattan and near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in violation of the curfew.

Yet even after the curfew took effect, the looting that it was meant to stop continued in parts of Midtown, a part of New York that is typically clogged with tourists, shoppers and residents alike.

The area, already hit hard by a pandemic that closed offices and brought retail to a halt, felt under siege as looters broke store windows, including at Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury retailer that has long been an anchor of Fifth Avenue. They ransacked a Microsoft store and vandalized a Barnes & Noble as helicopters whirred overhead.

Although the Macy’s in Herald Square had been boarded up, one entrance appeared to have been breached. Police officers roamed the interior of the store, which could barely be glimpsed from the outside through a narrow opening. Shortly after 11 p.m., the police seemed to be making a final arrest outside the store, as they led a young man in handcuffs to a police car.

In enacting the curfew, officials had sought to avoid the kind of looting that occurred after nightfall on Sunday in SoHo, another one of the city’s iconic shopping districts.

At around 8 p.m. on Monday, though, a group of people who had broken away from a large crowd of protesters at Union Square ransacked a Nike store on 20th Street. After smashing a window on the ground floor, young men stormed inside, sweeping sneakers off the shelves and grabbing clothes off the racks.

“They’re not with us!” shouted Steevo Anthony, 33, a supervisor at Whole Foods from Brooklyn, as he moved away from the looting. “Keep walking!”

Trembling with emotion, he added: “It’s giving a bad name to us people who are out here trying to do the right thing, the people who walked away.”

The looters continued uptown, finding another target between 36th and 37th Street: the New York Yankees Clubhouse Shop.

One young man laughed as he ran down Fifth Avenue with an armful of jerseys. He dropped a Gary Sanchez shirt, doubled back, picked it up and kept running. For about a dozen blocks north of the store, stray Yankees hats and T-shirts were strewn on the ground.

As the protests began to take shape across the city earlier in the day, participants and observers alike said they had never witnessed expressions of grief and anger of such magnitude.

“People are not going to go home until they get what they want,” Mike Tucker, a 54-year old Bronx resident whose 21-year-old son, Stephonne Crawford, was fatally shot by the police in 2005 in Brooklyn.

But Mr. Tucker, who spoke as he watched protesters gather on the steps of Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant, also denounced the violence and looting that have punctuated the protests in New York.

“We don’t want it to escalate,” he said. “We don’t want people coming out here tearing up, burning up.”

New York, like cities across the United States, has been roiled by widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism after the killing in police custody of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis.

Although the protests on Monday were again mostly orderly, they were punctuated by moments of tension and confrontation.

At one standoff near Washington Square Park in Manhattan, Terence A. Monahan, the Police Department’s chief of department and the city’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, grabbed a microphone to defuse the conflict. Hundreds of police cordoned off a large group of protesters in front of Radio City Music Hall. And at least 1,000 demonstrators walked onto the F.D.R. Drive in Lower Manhattan near the Brooklyn Bridge, blocking traffic on both sides of the highway.

As the calls about the chaos across Manhattan came in, an older man in Bay Ridge stood across the street from demonstrators chanting at a tense protest.

The imposition of a citywide curfew, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had announced only hours before it was to take effect, reflected a significantly more forceful approach to civil unrest than the city had taken in its recent history.

Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio said in a statement that they saw the move as necessary to prevent looting and other violence.

“The demonstrations we’ve seen have been generally peaceful,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “We can’t let violence undermine the message of this moment. It is too important and the message must be heard.”

With the imposition of the clampdown, New York joined Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington and a number of other cities across the United States that had taken similar steps.

Though officials have imposed curfews on the city’s parks in the past to address crime, such limits extending across New York’s five boroughs had not been adopted at any point in the past several decades, including as part of recent efforts to keep people at home to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

In 1943, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia imposed an emergency curfew after rioting in Harlem that was touched off when a white police officer shot a black soldier. Five people were killed during the ensuring protests. The city was also subject to a nationwide curfew on “places of public amusement” such as bars in 1945, as a fuel conservation measure.

As 11 p.m. approached, thousands of New Yorkers were left with a decision to make: Stay or go home?

In some places, the protests continued even after the curfew went into effect; in others, New Yorkers gradually began to disperse as the deadline neared.

Just after the curfew took effect, more than 200 people remained on Atlantic Avenue near the Barclays Center chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” and marching west. By around midnight, they had crossed the Manhattan Bridge, passing dozens of police officers at least once.

With the curfew 10 minutes away in Williamsburg, all but a handful of the protesters gathered outside the 90th Precinct had scattered. Some of those who remained said they had no intention of going home.

“I do not think anybody is going to be observing this curfew,” said George Daratany, 34. “It doesn’t compute for New York City to have a closing time.”

At Kings Plaza, officers gave the small number of remaining protesters several reminders about the curfew as the clock ticked toward 11 p.m.; all of them ultimately left the area with several minutes to spare.

Those exempt from the curfew included health care workers, people who work in groceries, pharmacies and other essential retail stores and journalists. The city’s Department of Homeless Services confirmed that outreach workers and people living unsheltered on the streets would also be exempt.

A number of elected officials criticized the curfew on Monday, saying it was announced too abruptly and without their having been consulted.

“It’s amazing when as an elected you find out that your neighborhood is going on lockdown because of Twitter,” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz of Queens, in a tweet.

The scene involving Chief Monahan ended with him taking a knee and locking arms with protesters.

A photo of the chief making the show of solidarity with protesters and their cause was reported and published by Gothamist. A separate video posted on Twitter by a CBS reporter captured his remarks before making the symbolic gesture.

“This has got to end. We all know Minnesota was wrong,” Chief Monahan said in the video, addressing protesters about Mr. Floyd’s death. “There is not a police officer over here that thinks Minnesota was justified. We stand with you on that.”

“But, this is our city — our city!” he continued. “Do not let people who are not from this city have you come here and screw up your city! We cannot be fighting. We have to live here. This is our home.”

After delivering his message into an amplified microphone, Chief Monahan took the hands of two protesters, one on either side, and together they dropped to one knee.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Monday for a vigil at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, the scene of anti-police rioting in 1969 that is widely regarded as a major turning point in the modern gay rights movement.

The event on Monday, which was organized to honor the memory of Black and Hispanic victims of police brutality, came on the first day of L.G.B.T.Q. Pride month, which would normally be commemorated with parades and events.

“We stand here today on hallowed ground,” Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat and New York’s only openly gay state senator, said at the vigil. “Our N.Y.P.D. works for us, should protect us and should protect protesters.”

As protests against police brutality and systemic racism have erupted across the country in recent days, some L.G.B.T.Q. activists have drawn parallels to the 1969 demonstrations at the Stonewall Inn.

After a violent police raid, patrons at the bar who were angry about longstanding harassment by the law enforcement authorities fought back, throwing bottles and stones at officers. The initial clash lasted about an hour, but protesters filled the Greenwich Village streets for days after.

The Police Department apologized for its actions last year, 50 years after the uprising. At the time, activists cautioned that the police needed to back up its words with actions and warned that transgender people, especially women of color, were vulnerable to police misconduct.

The vigil on Monday paid special attention to black transgender victims of violence, including Nina Pop, a woman killed in Missouri last month, and Tony McDade, a man killed in Florida last week.

In recent years, black transgender people have experienced deadly violence in the United States at rates that activists in some cities have said qualified as an epidemic.

As helicopters monitoring protests across the city flew overhead, those gathered at the Stonewall Inn read the names of police brutality victims. “Say their names!” the crowd chanted after each one was read.

Thousands of people gathered across the city over the weekend at protests prompted by the death of George Floyd, who died last week after a police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Among the hundreds of protesters who were arrested over the past four days, only one was highlighted by name by a police union known for its hostility toward Mr. de Blasio.

The union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, used Twitter to post a police report documenting the arrest on Saturday night of Ms. de Blasio, 25.

The Police Department does not normally release internal police reports, and Ms. de Blasio’s contained personal details, including her height, weight, address, date of birth and driver’s license information. Twitter removed the post was removed because it violated the platform’s rules violation, and the union’s account was suspended on Monday.

Edward D. Mullins, the union’s president, said the intent of his post on Twitter was to question the mayor’s strategy toward policing the protests.

“Is that why you’re tying our hands, because your daughter is out there?” Mr. Mullins added. “This needs to be looked at.”

On Monday, Mr. de Blasio on Monday called the disclosure of his daughter’s information “unconscionable.”

Mr. Mullins said he did not leak the report about Ms. de Blasio, but rather, copied a screenshot of the report from a Twitter post by a Daily Mail reporter that was subsequently deleted.

A police officer who pointed his gun at protesters should be stripped of his badge and weapon, Mr. de Blasio said on Monday.

A 12-second video of the encounter posted on social media shows the officer walking toward a crowd of protesters near The Strand book store on Broadway and East 12th Street. The officer pulls his gun from his left hip and points it at protesters gathered in front of the bookstore.

As the officer walks toward the crowd with his weapon drawn, the protesters scream and scatter.

The officer then turns and points the weapon at another group of protesters before a police supervisor approaches him and escorts him away.

“We have to always know it is not the place for an officer to pull a gun in the middle of a crowd, knowing there are peaceful protesters in that crowd,” the mayor said. “That is unacceptable, that is dangerous.”

The mayor described the scene as “chaotic,” but he also noted that the supervisor appeared to intervene.

“That officer should have his gun and badge taken away today,” Mr. de Blasio said. “There will be an investigation immediately to determine the larger consequence.”

Letitia James, the attorney general, requested on Twitter that the video be sent to her, an indication that she planned to investigate the matter.

An official at the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said on Monday that prosecutors were investigating potential incidents of police brutality that were captured on video in the past few days and circulated widely on the internet.

While the official declined to say which specific incidents the office was looking into, citing the sensitivity of the ongoing inquires, two in particular have received widespread attention recently: a police S.U.V. that surged into a crowd of protesters on Saturday on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and an officer who shoved a demonstrator violently near Barclays Center on Friday.

Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Emily Jo Corona, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Alan Feuer, Michael Gold, Emma Goldberg, Colin Moynihan, Nicole Hong, Jeffery C. Mays, Andy Newman, Derek M. Norman, Azi Paybarah, Jan Ransom, Dana Rubinstein, Nate Schweber, Matthew Sedacca, Ashley Southall, Liam Stack, Matt Stevens, Nikita Stewart, Alex Traub, Ali Watkins and Michael Wilson.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/nyregion/nyc-protests-george-floyd.html

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