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NYC stores plundered despite curfew; Brooklyn officials criticize City’s response to protests

June 2, 2020 Brian Mahoney and Jennifer Peltz Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s late-night curfew failed to prevent another night of destruction following protests over George Floyd’s death, but will carry through the remainder of the week. Meanwhile, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and other officials held a news conference in Brooklyn criticizing the City’s response to the protests.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets around the nation to express outrage over Floyd’s May 25 death and other killings of Black people, particularly by police. Floyd, who was Black, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee onto his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

As in previous days, the demonstrations in New York City on Monday in daylight were peaceful, with officers mostly keeping their distance from marchers. A nighttime march through Brooklyn was also peaceful, and police let it continue for hours after the 11 a.m. curfew passed.

At the same time, police responded to numerous reports of roving groups of people smashing their way into stores and emptying them of merchandise.

The doors of Macy’s flagship Manhattan store were breached. Police pulled two handcuffed men out and put them in a van.

“We worked hard to build up the business, and within a second, someone does this,” said the owner of a ransacked Manhattan smoke shop, who identified himself only by the name Harri. “Really bad.”

Protesters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Monday as part of a solidarity rally calling for justice for the death of George Floyd. Photo: Wong Maye-E/AP

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Tuesday that the curfew would move up to 8 p.m. The curfew lifts at 5 a.m., and announced that the City would continue to enforce the curfew through the end of the week.

De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the outbreaks of violence the previous two evenings — which left stores ransacked and police vehicles burned — gave them no choice to impose a curfew and boost police presence, even as they insisted they stood with the throngs of peaceful demonstrators who have spoken out for several days against police brutality and racial injustice.

Meanwhile, the city’s elected public advocate, Jumaane Williams, and some other officials held a news conference in Brooklyn criticizing the curfew.

“In the Black community, every time we ask for resources or assistance, they send police,” said Williams, a Democrat.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea expressed doubts earlier Monday about whether a curfew would be heeded. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a retired police captain whose borough has been a focal point for demonstrations and some damage, also had doubts.

“There are real deep, legitimate wounds, and if we’re not going to put the same level of energy into correcting those wounds as we’re going to put into telling people not to come out at 11, then we’re going to fail, and this is going to prolong the problem,” said Adams, a Democrat.

Shoes could be seen through a hole in the damaged glass of a store in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Monday. Photo: Craig Ruttle/AP

Earlier in the day, one Times Square demonstrator, Giselle Francisco, considered the curfew necessary.

“There are people who have ulterior motives, and they’re trying to hijack the message,” the New Yorker said.

Bystander Sean Jones, who watched as people ransacked luxury stores in Manhattan’s chic Soho neighborhood Sunday night, explained the destruction this way: “People are doing this so next time, before they think about trying to kill another Black person, they’re going to be like, ‘Damn, we don’t want them out here doing this … again.’”

On Sunday, some New York City police officers knelt with protesters. But officers have also clashed with demonstrators.

Shea said the department is investigating officers’ behavior in about six confrontations, including one in which two police vehicles plowed through a group of protesters Saturday in Brooklyn.

During Sunday night’s demonstration, video posted to social media showed a police officer pulling a gun and pointing it at demonstrators on a debris-littered Manhattan street moments after a protester used an object to deliver a crushing blow to another officer’s head a few yards away.

“That officer should have his gun and badge taken away today,” de Blasio said.

Cuomo said some officers had exacerbated tensions with some “very disturbing” actions. Police union president Patrick Lynch said Cuomo was “wrongly blaming the chaos on the cops.”

Contributing were Associated Press writers Larry Neumeister, Jake Seiner, Maria Sanminatelli, Michael R. Sisak, Karen Matthews and Deepti Hajela and video journalist Robert Bumsted in New York and Marina Villeneuve in Albany.

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  1. StanChaz

    In places, the article seems to conflate the events of several nights.
    As Gov. Cuomo said: There are many who want to intentionally blur the lines between peaceful, legitimate protesters and looters. They want you to watch the videos of the looting — not the video of Mr. Floyd being murdered. Don’t fall for it. Throughout the state we have seen peaceful protests that call for long-overdue change. As I have said — I stand in solidarity with the protesters. But separate and distinct from the peaceful protests there are criminals who are opportunistically using this situation for their own purposes. Criminal activity and looting must stop. Not only is it illegal — it distracts from the point of the protests.
    Protestors should assist the City (and their own cause) by ending all daily protests at 6pm, well before the curfew —leaving the streets to the troublemakers, under the cover of darkness. This, so that the valid & non-violent message of peaceful protestors is not drowned out by the sound & sight of breaking glass and looting.
    The police cannot be seen as the enemy. They hold our fragile social fabric together, the same social fabric that allows us the freedom to protest and demand change for the better. The true enemy is systemic racism and the individual brutality of some police officers that needs to be rooted out.
    We should be just as concerned about how people are treated by the law, as we are about law and order.
    We should be as concerned about lives as we are about property. You can replace material things, but you can’t replace a life.
    As VP Biden — who knows a lot about grief and loss –said: the only way to bear it all is to turn all that anguish and anger into purpose.
    That purpose is long-overdue change. The protestors want the professed ideals of America to be finally made real for everyone.
    They want the murder of George Floyd to be the LAST American lynching. They are the true American patriots