On Monday, thousands more protesters took to city streets to decry acts of racism and police brutality for the fifth consecutive night in Manhattan and the fourth straight night in Brooklyn.
The protests — which mirrored similar demonstrations across the country — began in response to the death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and have since evolved into a showing of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement and people of color around the world.
Things kicked off in Bedford-Stuyvesant at about 5 pm, where demonstrators met at the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street before heading west on Nostrand towards Franklin Avenue, down to Atlantic Avenue and back east towards Nostrand and Fulton. The group — undisturbed by cops — made a stop at Restoration Plaza, and later branched out to meet various other clusters of protests in the central Brooklyn area.
A few miles away, peaceful protests continued at Williamsburg’s McCarren Park, where thousands of people took a knee in silence at around 7:30 pm. Members of the crowd — who, at first glance, looked like picnickers — held signs and attempted to space out as to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Another protest sprung up at Barclays Center at 7 pm, before protestors marched along Flatbush Avenue to Borough Hall, where thousands of demonstrators gathered to hear organizers read poetry and speak about their experiences.
“I wasn’t taught this when I read the books. When I looked up Malcolm X … Martin Luther King, I never thought that I’d be living in the same reality,” said one speaker. “We’re here for a common cause and it’s for Black bodies. No longer are we going to sit around and allow Black bodies to be tortured.”
Several organizers emphasized the importance of remaining peaceful, even if police provoke them.
“This is our version of an uprising, we have to be tenacious,” said another organizer. “I’m anti-bully. Listen. Understand something. I know it , you know it, but don’t give them a motherf—— reason. Because if they [attack you] I’ll die for you.”
That protest then marched along the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge and through the financial district in Manhattan, with protesters holding signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and shouting chants, such as “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “Whose streets? Our streets.”
The demonstrators converged again around the historic Federal Hall on the corner of Wall and Broad streets, where protesters had spray painted “BLM” on the columns. Again, speakers encouraged peace and solidarity.
“If you’re looting, I just want to ask you one one question,” said one organizer. “The world is watching. If you’re looting, what are you doing it for? For your own gain or for George Floyd? If you’re looting please go home.”
After several speakers, the protesters continued uptown on Broadway into SoHo. One young woman from East Flatbush said that the protest was one of the more intense than other Black Lives Matter protests she’s attended in years prior.
“This generation of kids is not our grandparents,” said Taylor Fenner. “They’re tired of asking and they’re tired of saying please.”
Fenner, a mother of two, added that George Floyd’s killing was an extremely emotional event for her.
“My kids are little, but there’s going to be a point when they have to leave the house regularly,” she said, tearing up. “I know who I see when I look at them is not who the police see when they look at them.”
In Bay Ridge, a small group of peaceful protesters converged on 86th Street, and marched along the neighborhood’s two commercial strips. Cars honked in support and some residents took a knee from their stoops.
Hours earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a citywide 11 pm curfew, meant to prevent the looting, vandalism, fires and other incidents seen during protests in the two boroughs over the weekend. That curfew will now be instituted at 8 pm and end at 5 am each of the remaining nights this week.
Soon after Monday’s curfew began, de Blasio took to Twitter to tell the protesters to head home for the night.
“We support peaceful protest in this city. But right now it’s time to go home,” he tweeted. “Some people are out tonight not to protest but to destroy property and hurt others — and those people are being arrested. Their actions are unacceptable and we won’t allow them in our city.”
Outside the Barclays Center, where hundreds alone were arrested on Friday, cops ordered a group of about 100 protesters sitting in to disperse at around 10:35 pm. The group adhered to orders, and by about 10:52 pm, the plaza was mostly empty – until about 11:05 pm when a group of about 200 protesters made their way to the arena from Flatbush Avenue.
Demonstrators then took a knee at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Fort Greene Place, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
The group — trailed by four cop cars — then made its way back down Flatbush Avenue to the Manhattan Bridge peacefully, seemingly unbothered by authorities.
In all, Monday night’s protests remained relatively peaceful — sans a few incidents of looting and vandalism. According to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, there were around 700 arrests citywide on Monday, along with half a dozen officers injured and a handful of vehicles vandalized.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane