Fallout continues after protests; De Blasio, Cuomo impose curfew
Calls for peace were heard Sunday in the aftermath of protests following the tragic death of George Floyd. But hard questions and difficult issues remained — especially after Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a curfew from 11 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday and a doubling of police presence in the wake of Sunday’s spree of looting in Manhattan.
Despite incidents like Sunday’s, observers said most protesters were peaceful. Indeed, a video posted on Twitter on Sunday shows protesters blocking the entrance to a Target store in Brooklyn, forming a human chain and shouting “No” at others who were trying to loot it.
And Sunday afternoon, George Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, who lives in Brooklyn, and his minister, Rev. Kevin McCall, who also lives in Brooklyn, took part in a rally in Minneapolis. Previously, Floyd, on “Good Morning America,” said, “It’s OK to be angry, but channel your anger to do something positive or make a change another way because we’ve been down this road already.”
At the rally, Rev. McCall, who last year founded an organization, the Crisis Action Center on Rockaway Avenue in Brooklyn, told the crowd that along with being nonviolent, they still need to struggle for racial justice. “Peace on the left, justice on the right,” he said, in a chant that was picked up quickly by the crowd.
Brooklyn, as of Monday afternoon, hadn’t suffered a spree of high-stakes looting like Lower Manhattan, where crowds broke into high-end SoHo stores like Apple, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Coach.
Still, there was some looting in Brooklyn. And the weekend’s back-to-back demonstrations in Brooklyn, mainly around Grand Army Plaza, gave rise to some disturbing incidents, some involving police and others involving protesters.
In the most-publicized police incident, video taken on Saturday shows a police vehicle driving into a crowd of demonstrators near Prospect Park after the protesters erected a barricade against the cops. In another incident, a video shows a cop shoving a young woman, Dounya Zayer, to the ground.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday asked Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the conduct of police officers during the weekend.
However, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Saturday said that while it was upsetting to see the police car driving into the crowd, what the protesters was doing was unacceptable and that they started the situation. A day later, after criticism, de Blasio appeared to backtrack, calling the incident unacceptable and ordering his own investigation of that and other incidents.
On the protester side, after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a police car near the Brooklyn Museum early Saturday, police arrested Samantha Shader, of Catskill, N.Y. She’s been charged with attempted murder of a police officer, attempted arson, assault on a police office and other offenses. Her sister Darian, who allegedly tried to stop the arrest, has been charged with resisting arrest.
According to Channel 4 news, prosecutors say Samantha Shader has “has traveled the country committing various crimes, which include acts of violence and resisting arrest.”
In perhaps the most surprising episode, two Brooklyn lawyers, Colinford Mattis, who is also a member of Community Board 5, and Urooj Rahman, a recent graduate of Fordham University law school, were charged with trying to throw a Molotov cocktail at a police car outside the 88th Precinct in Fort Greene. Both are facing federal charges.
Many of the acts of violence, although not all, have been blamed on members of fringe anarchist groups who are not members of the community.
Prominent members of Brooklyn’s Black community are outspoken in their outrage over George Floyd’s death after a Minneapolis police officer, who has now been charged with murder, put his knee on Floyd’s throat for eight minutes.
Borough President Eric Adams said, “It is a pain we’ve felt, over and over again over the years, as we’ve watched countless Black people across this country fall victim to police abuse. Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Tamar Rie, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor. People whose lives were tragically cut short in the blink of an eye.”
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, in a press conference on Monday, said, “Our country is in crisis as we see Black lives being stolen by officers who put themselves above the law. We must make drastic changes today for the sake of our country’s future and remove all the bad apples in law enforcement before their actions escalate to a loss of life.”
She also called for the firing of Officer Vincent D’Andraia, accused of shoving Zayer to the ground.
Brooklyn-raised filmmaker Spike Lee, in an interview with the Associated Press, said, “People are tired and they take to the streets.” He said he was reminded of the death by police chokehold of his fictional character Radio Raheem in “Do The Right Thing” when he heard of the deaths, first of Eric Garner and then George Floyd.
On a hopeful note, he said, “I’m very encouraged by the diversity of these protests. I haven’t seen such diverse protests [including many white protesters] since I was a kid.”
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