NEW YORK – Thousands of protesters took to the streets in New York City on Friday to hold demonstrations and carry marches and vigils against alleged police brutality that largely passed off peacefully.
While some crowds went home after protest organizers urged them to, others carried on with their demonstrations and were arrested on a day two New York police officers were suspended for alleged disproportionate use of force at a George Floyd protest last week in Brooklyn.
Thousands of people held marches and vigils in five boroughs of New York to protest against the murder of the African-American George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis on May 25.
People again defied a curfew across the city, albeit for less time than on other days, and risked blunt tactics that the police used during two previous nights to disperse protesters.
Many returned to their homes when the curfew began at 8:00 pm amid intermittent rains.
In Manhattan, about 20 people were detained from Park Avenue at 81st Street, as police allowed protesters to hold a demonstration for about half an hour after the curfew.
Another group demonstrating in Union Square towards the City Council decided to leave the streets after 9:00 pm.
Several hundred people attended the march despite the rain in Queens.
With placards reading “Please vote,” “Suppress the police” or “Enough,” the protesters held a vigil peacefully for half an hour, knelt and raised a fist for the rights of the black community.
The organizers announced that “we are here, shoulder to shoulder in the rain for the dead” before everyone repeated several times the name of Breonna Taylor, a young woman from Kentucky who was allegedly shot and killed by police officers nearly three months ago in her home.
“We have to end police brutality, white supremacism, and racism,” they shouted.
The demonstrations were held on what would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday.
Twenty minutes before the curfew began, the vigil was dispersed peacefully and the organizers again called the participants to the same place and at the same time on Saturday.
However, several hundred chose to start a march, braving the rain and extraordinary security measures.
“I am a black man and I have experienced police brutality first hand, that is why I participate (in the demonstration),” said Dimitri Pascoe from Brooklyn, who claimed to have attended the protests over the last three days.
“I’m here because we want to end this,” the 26-year-old said, hoping that the wave of protests across the country can lead to change.
New York Police Commissioner Dermont F. Shea said in a statement that two officers were suspended without pay for their involvement in what he called “troubling” and “disturbing” incidents during the protests last week against the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in police custody.
Shea didn’t identify the officers, but said one of them was suspended after a video showed him pushing a woman at a demonstration in Brooklyn on May 29.
The other was suspended for removing a man’s mask and then spraying pepper on his face.
“Over the past week, as I’ve said on multiple occasions, we have seen several troubling incidents involving behavior from members of the department that the NYPD is actively investigating,” Shea said in the statement.
“These incidents are disturbing and run counter to the principles of NYPD training, as well as our mission of public safety. The actions by these officers stand apart from the restrained work of the thousands of other officers who have worked tirelessly to protect those who are peacefully protesting and keep all New Yorkers safe.”
He said while investigations go on, it was necessary to assure the public that there would be transparency.
This disciplinary action by the New York police coincides with the suspension of Buffalo cops facing a probe after a video showed them assaulting a man on Thursday.
The actions of these two riot officers were videotaped and have gone viral on social media, causing outrage in the United States.
The entire Buffalo riot unit, made up of 57 officers, has resigned in solidarity with their suspended colleagues.