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NYPD: About 280 arrested during protests

The NYPD reported that around 280 people were arrested after protesters and police officers clashed late Tuesday evening, the second time in as many nights that demonstrators crowded and blocked city streets long after a citywide curfew.  Credit: Charlie Eckert

This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Anthony M. DeStefano, Laura Figueroa Hernandez, Nicole Fuller, Joan Gralla, Antonio Planas and Nicholas Spangler. It was written by Fuller.

Around 280 people were arrested Tuesday night and there were reports of looters trying to ransack Manhattan luxury goods stores, the NYPD said, but the rampant destruction seen over the past few nights appeared to have calmed.

The city had instituted an 8 p.m. curfew Tuesday to prevent the widespread looting and violence that has filled the city’s streets after mostly peaceful daytime protests in support of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in Minneapolis police custody.

But protesters and police officers clashed late Tuesday evening, the second time in as many nights that demonstrators crowded and blocked city streets long after a citywide curfew. 

In Brooklyn and Manhattan, sporadic but sometimes violent confrontations between protesters and police flared up well beyond the 8 p.m. curfew.

Two member of the NYPD sustained "nonserious" injuries and three police vehicles were damaged, an NYPD spokesman said Wednesday morning.

Police began making arrests around 9 p.m. and shut down parts of the West Side Highway in lower Manhattan, blocking it off to huge crowds of protesters, The Associated Press reported. The police department announced it would not allow vehicle traffic south of 96th Street in Manhattan after curfew, though residents, essential workers, buses and truck deliveries were exempt.

The Associated Press reported that NYPD officers forced two of its journalists to stop covering the protests Tuesday night, surrounding them, shoving them and cursing at them while yelling at them to go home.

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD for failing to stop the looting of stores and businesses — several in some of Manhattan's high-end shopping areas.

"The mayor and the NYPD did not do their job last night," Cuomo said Tuesday during a televised news briefing. "It was a disgrace. I believe that. I believe the mayor underestimates the scope of the problem. I believe he underestimates the duration of the problem. And I don't think they’ve used enough police to address the situation." 

De Blasio, who earlier announced his extension of a citywide 8 p.m. curfew through Sunday, defended his and the NYPD's actions in an interview Tuesday night on 1010 WINS and called Cuomo's comments "inappropriate."

"He can attack me all he wants. I'm used to it. I think he’s wrong and I don’t think it’s the way to get things done," the mayor said of Cuomo's comments. "We’re trying to solve a problem. I’ve tried to really be respectful of the state’s leadership through this pandemic, even sometimes when I disagree, but I really don’t think that kinda approach gets anyone anywhere. … The important point here is [Cuomo] dishonored the men and women of the NYPD in an absolutely inappropriate way for any leader to do. … Any elected official who blames the NYPD while they were out there fighting in the streets to restore order and protect people, I mean that’s disgraceful."

The 8 p.m. curfew came after hours of peaceful demonstrations in the past two days were followed by looting and violence at night. Monday night's curfew was in place from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. Tuesday. Late Tuesday night, crowds of protesters — in many cases smaller than 24 hours before — were in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Cuomo said de Blasio rejected the governor's offer to deploy the National Guard. Cuomo, who has clashed repeatedly in public with his fellow Democrat over a raft of issues and overridden de Blasio during their yearslong feud — said he has also offered the contingent of 13,000 National Guard members, as well as state police troopers, to other cities across the state.

“New York City has said they don’t want or need the National Guard, which would be a large scale support network that we could bring to New York City,” Cuomo said Tuesday, adding that the National Guard remains on “standby" if needed. “I am disappointed and outraged about what happened in New York City last night. The police in New York City were not effective in doing their job last night. Period. They have to do a better job.”

However, Cuomo said, he could not independently deploy the National Guard into the city without the mayor's consent. Cuomo said he would have to move to "displace" the mayor in a formal legal process, which he said was not on the table, calling it a "bizarre thing to do in this situation." 

Later Tuesday evening, Richard Azzopardi, a senior Cuomo adviser, issued a statement clarying the governor's position.

"The Governor has always said he has respect and confidence in the NYPD and he knows they can handle this situation because he has seen them do it in the past," the statement read. "It's not the men and women of the NYPD - he questions the management and deployment of the NYPD and believes the Mayor should put more NYPD officers on the streets to do their job. There are 36,000 police officers - why isn't at least half the force on the streets protecting public safety with looting going on across the city?"

Later on CNN, de Blasio told host Chris Cuomo, the governor's younger brother, that putting an 11 p.m. curfew in place Monday night was "a very concise decision between the city and state together."

He said the 8 p.m. curfew was having an effect and “people were scurrying, they were moving quick to try and get home.”

Even so, protesters held demonstrations long after curfew and engaged in sporadic scuffles with police officers. Just before 11 p.m., the NYPD appeared to have closed all Manhattan-bound lanes of the Manhattan Bridge. Dozens of officers were positioned on the Brooklyn  Bridge too but were letting vehicles through single file.

Gates were set up on the blocks surrounding Trump Tower. Saks Fifth Avenue had more than a dozen security guards posted outside. The store had added barbed wire to the plywood boarding up the windows.

As the curfew began, an NYPD vehicle drove up Third Avenue blasting a prerecorded warning that other than for state-defined essential purposes, all traffic was banned south of 96th Street and people must stay inside.

The traffic ban will continue through the duration of the protests. A law enforcement source said days off and vacation will be delayed for NYPD officers until the demonstrations end.

At 10 p.m. vandals tried to break into a Foot Locker on Broadway near Union Square.  A member of the Guardian Angels citizen patrol group was hit with a hammer by one of the vandals.

A doughnut shop on Broadway was vandalized with a hammer while a baker worked inside.

“It’s crazy. This is how we support George?” said Gafrmoh Okac, the baker. “I was inside, and I heard boom, slamming with a hammer. They just want to destroy everything.”

Near the intersection of 4th and Atlantic avenues in Brooklyn, hundreds of demonstrators got into scuffles with dozens of police officers. Police surrounded several demonstrators at the scene, about a block from the Barclays Center. No information was immediately available regarding possible arrests.

Fireworks exploded on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and protesters lobbed bottles and other objects at officers.

“You couldn’t catch me on your best day,” a young man taunted a police officer who chased after him.

Several hours before, demonstrators filled the triangle outside the Brooklyn arena. More than a dozen NYPD officers stood by, relaxed but wearing riot helmets and carrying nightsticks.

Edward Young, 35, of Flatbush, said he came out because he was “tired of being abused by police.” Young said he was not optimistic about the power of protest but tried to be optimistic.

“I’m hoping at least they will hear my voice," he said.

In lower Manhattan, looters ransacked garbage of apartments and threw it into the roadway of Bowery and sidewalks of nearby homes. A man was heard pleading how the mess hurt his family and the neighborhood.

Hours before in a statement, NYPD Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch, defended officers' actions Monday night.

“Rank-and-file New York City police officers were out on the street last night doing our job. Tonight, we’ll go out and do it again. It’s not our fault that our city and state governments can’t plan and work together, but we are suffering the consequences. Police officers are being run down, knocked down and almost shot on a nightly basis. The political tug of war between Albany and City Hall needs to stop, because it is putting police officers in danger.”

Cuomo said Tuesday he remained confident the NYPD could stop the widespread looting of businesses across Manhattan and in the Bronx if deployed effectively. 

"I believe in the inherent capacity of the NYPD, if managed and if deployed … that has to be fixed and that has to be fixed today.," the governor said. "I do believe the NYPD, well deployed, wouldn’t need the National Guard."

In response to Cuomo's comments, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan told the New York Post he was “extremely outraged.”

“I’m watching my men and women out there dealing with stuff that no cop should ever have to deal with, bricks, bottles, rocks,” he said. “Hit in the face with bottles and continuing to go forward to make an arrest.”

De Blasio, speaking just before Cuomo, rejected the idea of National Guard troops in New York City, where police made nearly 700 arrests overnight amid the chaos. 

"We do not need, nor do we think it's wise for the National Guard to be in New York City," de Blasio said. "The National Guard should not be brought here. We have 36,000 police officers. They are the best equipped to deal with the situation.”

He added: “When outside armed forces come into communities, no good comes from it.”

Pressed by reporters about bringing in the National Guard, de Blasio was adamant they were not welcome. 

"No on the National Guard," de Blasio said just before Cuomo's coronavirus briefing Tuesday. "We will regret it if we bring outside armed forces — I'm gonna say, this is clear as a bell if someone wants to go and check all the history of what happens when outside, armed forces go into our communities.”

The mayor also stressed on Tuesday that while "criminals" had looted stores in Manhattan and the Bronx, the vast majority of daytime demonstrations Monday were peaceful.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, who spoke beside the mayor, said police arrested more than 700 people overnight into Tuesday. 

"If you choose to protest today, do it in the daytime hours, and then please go home, because we have work to do this evening to keep a peaceful city," de Blasio said.

Shea thanked officers.

“The New York City Police Department will be there to protect you and make sure that criminals do not run New York City," the commissioner said. "We will control this. We have this. And you can have faith in that.”

With the AP

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