After an evening of protests across the borough and the city, demonstrators reconvened near Prospect Park on Saturday afternoon to continue their calls for justice in response to the videotaped killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Saturday’s protest branched off into numerous demonstrations lasting well into the night, and came on the heels of a raucous Friday, when over three thousand protesters gathered outside the Barclays Center to decry Floyd’s death — which resulted from white officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight continuous minutes.
Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter on Friday, but demonstrations against police brutality have continued across the country. Each of the five boroughs saw at least one clash between protesters and police on Saturday.
“I’m out here today to join forces with the protesters about all the injustice that’s going on in America and also in the police system,” demonstrator Sherniel Jones told Brooklyn Paper.
Jones, who said she was against any form of rioting, was admittedly worried that the event may once more turn violent — although, she said, things were “really peaceful” while the sun was up.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Parkside Avenue subway station early Saturday afternoon before marching east towards Tilden Avenue. Along the way, demonstrators beat drums and other percussion instruments, while chanting messages such as, “No justice, no peace,” and “We are George.”
Some B41 bus drivers honked loudly in support of Parkside protesters, one day after the Transit Workers Union stepped in and prevented cops from recommissioning city busses for use in transporting detainees.
Shortly after 5 pm, protesters took a knee near Flatbush Avenue and Regent Place, where police officers placed barricades. Officers eventually relented and allowed small crowds to continue down Flatbush, where cops were seen splitting protesters up into groups.
Dozens of cops were seen not wearing face masks despite protesters’ pleas to wear the personal protective equipment as they patrolled the large crowd. Nearly all demonstrators wore masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
At Grand Army Plaza, a police official told protesters he would get masks for the maskless cops patrolling the plaza — and offered to hand them out to demonstrators as well.
Some contingents of the protest split by cops grew rowdier as the evening went on, with protesters and police clashing yet again. Shortly after 6:30 pm, a 1010 WINS reporter was hit in the head with a glass bottle by a protester near Flatbush Avenue and Flatbush Junction and had to receive medical attention.
NYPD with night sticks at Bedford and Chirch in Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/JAjcbHoMsl
— Justin C. Cohen (@juscohen) May 30, 2020
Protesters continued to descend upon Grand Army Plaza, and parts of Downtown Brooklyn and Flatbush as the sun went down. Demonstrators also made their way to and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Several tense standoffs between protesters and police were recorded and numerous police cars were set ablaze. At least 120 arrests were made, NYPD said Saturday, and frictions played out into the night, with police officers charging crowds — some throwing bottles and debris, others peaceful — with riot shields, batons, and chemical mace.
Cops just charged crowd after objects thrown pic.twitter.com/RwdpoLXsMQ
— Ben Verde (@verde_nyc) May 31, 2020
Two separate videos posted on social media show an NYPD cruiser driving through a crowd as protesters attempted to block the path of the police inside and pelted their vehicles with objects on Flatbush Avenue and St. Marks Place.
During a late-night press availability, Mayor de Blasio said the footage was being investigated and that he “wished the officers hadn’t done that,” but defended their actions.
“If those protesters had gotten out of the way… we wouldn’t be talking about this situation,” he said.
This is sickening: pic.twitter.com/PNrrJQWTF1
— claudia irizarry aponte (@clauirizarry) May 31, 2020
Another video posted to Twitter showed protesters standing guard outside the Atlantic Center Target to prevent looters.
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) May 31, 2020
The mayor pleaded with those still in the streets at 11:30 pm to make their way home.
“It’s time to go home, the point’s been made,” he said.
Across the city, 345 arrests were made, 33 cops were injured and 47 police vehicles were damaged, the Daily News reported early Sunday. At a press conference Sunday morning, neither Mayor de Blasio nor Police Commissioner Dermot Shea would say how many protesters were injured or hospitalized.