Officers assaulted, over 70 arrested as protesters demand justice for George Floyd in NYC

1010 WINS Newsroom
May 29, 2020 - 6:50 am
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Several NYPD officers were assaulted and more than 70 people were arrested Thursday evening as protesters took to Union Square in defiance of New York's prohibition on public gatherings to call for charges against the officers involved in George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan told 1010 WINS Friday morning that 72 people were arrested, including five for felony assault on a police officer.

There were 33 misdemeanor arrests, including for obstruction and resisting arrest. The other 34 for arrests were mainly for disorderly conduct and blocking streets, Monahan said.

Monahan said three officers were injured during the protest, one of whom had a concussion after a garbage can was thrown at him.

A sergeant attempting to take someone into custody was knocked to the ground and also suffered a concussion, Monahan said. A deputy inspector moving in to make an arrest, meanwhile, was knocked to the ground, leaving him with a shoulder and back injury, he said. 

Monahan said no protesters were injured that he knew of.

NYC protest
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Videos posted to social media on Thursday showed mask-clad protesters in Union Square chanting, “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace."

Arrests began around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the NYPD said. Protestors made their way to Tweed Courthouse in Foley Square, where other arrests were made.

Attendees carried signs emblazoned with messages including “Stop Killing Our Black & Brown Brothers & Sisters” and “No Lives Matter Until Black Lives Matter.” 

George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday. Video taken by a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he arrested him, despite Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. 

Four Minneapolis police officers — including the officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck — were fired on Wednesday, but none had been charged in connection with his death as of Friday.

Monahan told 1010 WINS that Thursday's protest in Manhattan "was a different sort of protest" than what he was used to.

"I’ve been to literally thousands of protests, which were done peacefully without a problem, and we go along and make sure they have that right to peacefully protest," Monahan said. "But this was a group last night—it wasn’t that large of a group—but the group was intent on causing mayhem."

“Our job is to protect protesters, allow people to freely express their opinions," Monahan said. "But when someone charges a police officer—we’ve had them spitting on police officers—at that point that individual that’s causing the problem, we move in and we take them into custody."

NYC protest
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

"What was happening last night, as we attempted to take someone into custody, the entire crowd started surrounding the police officers, trying to grab that person back, hitting police officers, having bottles thrown at us, garbage thrown at us, construction barrels thrown at us," Monahan said. "The crowd last night was focused on confronting and fighting the police, not so much with protesting.”

Monahan said the NYPD supports protesters' right to demonstrate but that attacking police officers won't be tolerated.

"We didn’t expect them to be so confrontational, and right off the bat charging police officers and pushing police officers, which obviously we can’t accept," Monahan said. "Throwing garbage in the streets. We didn’t accept that from this group. Hopefully the rest of the protests are more like we’re used to, which is people expressing their opinions freely, which is something that we 1,000 percent support."

With more protests expected Friday and possibly over the weekend, Monahan said the NYPD will be prepared.

"There will be a very large police presence there," the chief said. "We expect that these will be peaceful, that people will express their outrage on the incident that happened in Minnesota, which rightly so. But we’ll be out there to make sure we keep the peace. And if there are any agitators within the group, if we need to make that arrest, we’ll single that individual out, we’ll take him and allow the other peaceful protesters to go on."

Monahan's message to future protesters: "Listen, come out if you want to protest, express your opinions. Understand that actions of that one police officer—or those four police officers out in Minnesota—is something that’s condemned by the 800,000 police officers around this country. We understand the outrage, but we’re the ones paying the price for the actions of a police officer out in Minnesota."

NYC protest
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

In a tweet posted on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest to be “charged immediately” — prompting an outcry from critics who noted that the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in a chokehold was only fired from the department five years after Garner’s 2014 death. 

Asked about his statement on Floyd’s death — as well as New York City’s response to Garner’s death — during his daily briefing on Friday, de Blasio said he felt “the authorities in Minneapolis were right to say this is something that needed to be acted upon immediately."

“I’ve said, from this point on in the city of New York, we’re going to act immediately as well,” de Blasio said. “This kind of thing can’t just happen. 

“The bottom line here is, I’ve been really clear about the fact we made a mistake — I made a mistake — in believing the U.S. Department of Justice would do its job (in the Eric Garner case),” he added. “When the city took over, there was due process, there was a trial, our police commissioner made a decision. It was the right decision.” 

“The thing I feel very clearly, in retrospect, we should have ignored the Department of Justice, because what they did was unconscionable in not acting, and just moved ahead,” he went on to say. “And that’s what we will do from now on, absolutely.”

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