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May 31, 2020, 7:22 p.m. EDT

De Blasio calls for mutual respect between police, protesters as New York City demonstrations continue

No plans for curfew; Cuomo says National Guard on standby

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By Associated Press

Getty Images
People gather to protest the police killing of George Floyd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday.

NEW YORK — New York City officials were looking for a peaceful way forward as the city entered a fourth day of protests against police brutality that have left police cars burned, and led to the arrest of hundreds of people.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had no plans to impose a curfew Sunday, unlike other major U.S. cities, and smaller cities throughout the state.

De Blasio said city police showed “tremendous restraint overall” during the weekend’s protests, but promised an investigation of video showing two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators in a Brooklyn street, knocking people to the ground. He appointed two city officials to review how the protests unfolded and how they were handled by the police.

“We all better get back to the humanity here,” de Blasio said at a Sunday morning briefing. “The protesters are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect. The police officers are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect.”

Hours after he spoke, demonstrations resumed. Like the past two days, they got off to a largely peaceful start.

Hundreds of people gathered on a plaza in downtown Brooklyn, chanting “No justice, no peace,” and “Black lives matter,” while making occasional insulting hand gestures at a line of police officers protecting the arena where the NBA’s Nets play.

Marchers chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” — a rallying cry that originated from the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — during a separate rally in Queens. In Manhattan, hundreds of people marched through the streets then knelt on Fifth Avenue.

Around the city, there were gestures from police officers intended to show sympathy or respect with marchers. A few officers clapped along with protesters in Manhattan. In Queens, uniformed officers took a knee with protesters in a Queens intersection as an organizer called out the names of men and women who have died at the hands of police.

The mood had been light Saturday, too, when largely peaceful protests devolved into scattered clashes between police and protesters later in the evening. Demonstrators smashed shop windows, threw objects at officers, set police vehicles on fire and blocked roads. Graffiti was scrawled on Manhattan’s famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

There were multiple complaints about police unnecessarily shoving or bludgeoning protesters and spraying crowds with chemicals.

New York City police said 345 people were arrested, 33 officers were injured and 27 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed by fire. There were no major injuries reported. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said some peaceful demonstrations were “hijacked” by people with violent intent.

“We’re going to make sure that everyone has the right to peacefully protest and assemble,” Shea said said at a briefing with the mayor. “But we are not going to tolerate destruction of property, having our officers put into harm’s way or any civilians put into harm’s way.”

Similar protests flared around the nation in response to the Minnesota death of George Floyd. Floyd, who was black, died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck.

Elsewhere in New York, shop windows were shattered in Rochester and demonstrators set fire to a tractor trailer in Albany. In Buffalo, a person threw a flaming object though a city hall window.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the National Guard is on standby and that hundreds of additional troopers are being made available in Buffalo and Rochester, where hundreds of people showed Sunday to help clean up the damage.

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