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Protests continue for 12th straight day in NYC

Demonstrators gathered in Manhattan and in Brooklyn on

Demonstrators gathered in Manhattan and in Brooklyn on Monday to protest against police brutality and in support of justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.  Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes; James Carbone

This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Anthony M. DeStefano, Nicole Fuller and John Valenti. It was written by Fuller.

Protesters took to New York City's streets for a 12th straight day Monday, as Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to reduce police funding and new crime statistics showed nighttime looting led commercial burglaries to skyrocket over the previous week.

In contrast, the NYPD said Tuesday morning that there were no arrests during Monday's demonstrations, which included a solidarity bicycle ride that drew more than 1,000 cyclists.

Demonstrators protested the death of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 in Minneapolis police custody. A public memorial service was held for Floyd on Monday in Houston, and he will be buried Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, de Blasio said Monday that some NYPD funding will be diverted to youth programs. But he declined to give a dollar amount of his proposed cut to the NYPD’s annual $6 billion budget, except to say it would be “something substantial.” Members of the City Council, which have budgetary oversight, have already expressed support for cutting the police department’s budget.

The mayor's comments came on the same day the NYPD reported that commercial burglaries shot up in the week ending June 7 by nearly 250% over the week ending May 31 due to looting. A top NYPD official blamed the looting on organized groups taking advantage of a police force largely distracted by protests over Floyd's death.

For the week ending June 7, the NYPD tallied 909 commercial burglaries. For the week ending May 31, the department recorded 260, according to department crime statistics.

The widespread looting on May 31, and even more over the next few days in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx, had a marked increase on the department’s major crime statistics, bringing that number to 2,178, the highest level for any week in the city since the COVID-19 “pause” began in New York State. For the year to date, the city has tallied 37,105 major crimes, slightly under 37,588 for the same period in 2019.

John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence, said the looting was carried out by organized gangs who used the legitimate protests as a smoke screen to carry out their crimes. Miller said police have made hundreds of arrests for looting, including felony charges of second- and third-degree burglary.

Investigators are using license plate readers and facial recognition technology to track some of the suspects and more looting-related arrests are expected in the coming weeks, he said.

The NYPD issued about 1,350 summonses for violating the citywide curfew instituted last week after the looting, according to NYPD spokesman Richard Esposito.

Between May 28 and June 7 there were 550 arrests for commercial burglary; 114 for criminal possession of stolen property; 66 for criminal mischief; 23 for possession of burglary tools; 39 for assault on a police officer; 137 for obstruction of government administration and 197 for unlawful assembly, he said.

Among the arrestees were at least 132 protesters injured, based on official medical treatment forms, Esposito said, but added: “this is without a doubt an undercount, as it will not, for example, include persons who chose not to report injuries that were not apparent or persons who were not arrested and might have suffered an injury.”

There were 354 cops injured, a number that’s also likely to grow as more paperwork is completed, he said.

The mayor, during his briefing, also called social media rumors about a police department shake-up “false,” including suggestions that NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea could either be fired or resign. De Blasio said he has “immense respect” for Shea.

Shea voiced his support for the funding decrease on Twitter, writing Monday morning: “To help the kids of our city, I’m 1,000% behind shifting some funding from the police to youth programs. It’s incumbent upon all of us to dig down and do what’s needed.”

Shea also said on Fox News Monday afternoon that he was not leaving.

“Let me be as definitive as I can, there is no way on Earth that I would resign,” he said, “particularly in this crisis.”

De Blasio, who had lifted the city’s 8 p.m. curfew Sunday amid pressure from activists and some city leaders saying it resulted in more police confrontations and arrests, said Monday the order had its desired effect: stopping looting.

More than a thousand cyclists converged on Brooklyn's Barclays Center Monday night — chanting “Black Lives Matter!” and other protest slogans. Some blasted a 1988 anti-police anthem from the Compton, California, rap group N.W.A.

“Quit your job!” several shouted at NYPD cops manning barricades at Atlantic and Carlton avenues, punctuating the demand with a curse word.

“Get a job!” several cops shouted back as the cyclists streamed by.

Another demonstrator shouted back: “Wear your mask! You’re going to get us all killed!”

About 90 minutes before, more than 1,000 cyclists mustered at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza for a solidarity ride. The city’s bike-rental service, Citi Bike, waived overage fees through 9 p.m. in support.

“Black Lives Matter!” the cyclists chanted, accenting the slogan with five syncopated bicycle bell rings as they pedaled away.

Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, whose entry streets had been mostly closed by the police for much of the past week after boutiques and high-end shops there sustained days of looting and theft, were reopened, albeit with marked police vehicles on the corners, red-and-blue lights flashing.

Just north, affixed to the marble Washington Square Park triumphal arch: a black-and-white sign: “THE MOVeMeNT oF FLOYD,” it said in bigger letters, beneath signs that read: “WE MOURN George” and “NoN Violent.”

In midtown, some side streets remained closed Monday night to anyone who doesn’t live or work on the block. 

Earlier, in his daily news briefing, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said protesters calling for police departments to be defunded “are right,” and local political leaders should “go further” and address racial inequities in education, housing and health care.

“I think this is a wake-up call, or not a wake-up call, this is a transition, transformation moment across the country,” Cuomo said. “People are saying it has to stop, we have to change, right? When they’re saying defund the police, what are they saying? They’re saying, we want fundamental, basic change when it comes to policing and they’re right. They are right.”

Cuomo said he didn’t think the defund push would end with the NYPD.

“I also believe you’ll see that in every police department that is now operating,” the governor said. “They understand they’re now operating in a different reality with different perceptions and different mandates so I think you will see a shift all across police departments. I think police departments that don’t hear it and don’t get it are going to have a real problem and the political leadership of that police department will have a problem, right?”

With the AP

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