Monday night in Washington Square Park, things came close to a flash point between cops and protesters. That is until quick action by NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan appeared to defuse the situation after he spoke to the crowd and took a knee with an organizer.
In a telephone interview with Newsday, Monahan recounted how a fight between protesters and agitators prompted plainclothes officers to move in when one of the agitators appeared to go into a backpack to get a gun. The action by police in response prompted some in the crowd to get angry and begin tossing bottles at the officers, Monahan said, adding that officers weren't able to secure any firearm.
It was then that Monahan ordered officers to pull back. But the protest organizer said even with that move by officers, he couldn't guarantee he could hold the crowd back. Monahan, a 39-year career veteran with the NYPD, said he talked to the crowd through a megaphone and in dramatic fashion, told everyone in the park "enough was enough" and the violence had to stop.
After Monahan spoke, the protest organizer asked him to take a knee with him, which the chief did. As Monahan rose, both he and the organizer hugged.
The encounter between a top cop and protesters seemed to calm things. But Monahan knew he had hours of work yet ahead of him Monday.
Sounding weary after four nights of violence on the streets, Monahan said his officers had been bloodied, and he was just looking to get through the first night of the newly imposed curfew.