Police officers in New York City cracked down on largely peaceful protesters gathering across the city Wednesday in defiance of a curfew.
Thousands of demonstrators stepped out in Manhattan and Brooklyn during the third night of a citywide curfew amid ongoing protests calling for dramatic police reform following the death of George Floyd. But the gatherings quickly escalated as the 8 p.m. restrictions set in, according to local reports.
Jumaane Williams, New York City’s Public Advocate, shared footage of police officers aggressively moving demonstrators, some using batons, away from a gathering outside Brooklyn Borough Hall. He slammed the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying he did not expect the behavior after the mayor “came into office pledging to reform the type of aggressive policing I experienced tonight.”
“I can’t believe what I just witnessed & experienced. The force used on nonviolent protestors was disgusting. No looting/no fires. Chants of ‘peaceful protest,’” Williams wrote on Twitter. “What happened was completely avoidable. I’m so ashamed of [de Blasio].”
Others shared similar accounts.
There were reports late Wednesday that three NYPD officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries in Brooklyn, including one who was possibly shot. A press secretary for the mayor said de Blasio was heading to the hospital following the incident. It’s unclear if the injuries were linked in any way to Wednesday’s protests.
Terence Monahan, the NYPD’s chief of department, told reporters there would be “no more tolerance” after several demonstrations devolved into looting and vandalism in recent days, saying officers had given those gathered some leeway but ultimately enforced the citywide curfew.
“When we have these big crowds, especially in this area, especially where we’ve had the looting, no more tolerance,” Monahan said Wednesday, per The New York Times. “They have to be off the street. An 8 o’clock curfew — we gave them to 9 o’clock. And there was no indication that they were going to leave these streets.”
The New York Daily News noted dozens of protesters had been arrested, but said the night appeared calmer than demonstrations earlier this week.
Both the NYPD and the mayor have faced sharp criticism over their handling of the protesters. Thousands of New Yorkers have been arrested since the demonstrations began, including a HuffPost reporter, during clashes with heavily armed police.