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June 3, 2020, 11:35 p.m. EDT

Police, heavy rain discourage New York City demonstrators after curfew

Police use batons, pepper spray to break up protests in Manhattan, Brooklyn

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By Associated Press


Associated Press
A protester and a police officer shake hands in the middle of a standoff during a solidarity rally calling for justice over the death of George Floyd on Tuesday in New York.

NEW YORK — Peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd continued Wednesday in New York City, but an early curfew, drenching rain and refined police tactics appeared to have stopped some of the destruction of previous nights.

Some critics said the calm came at a high price, as the city was forced to grind to a halt at 8 p.m., bridges were closed to traffic and police arrested dozens of orderly people for violating the curfew.

About an hour after the deadline to get off the street, officers began moving in on crowds of demonstrators in Manhattan and Brooklyn, at times blasting people with pepper spray or using batons to shove people who didn’t move fast enough.

When one demonstrator asked an officer why he was being taken into custody, an Associated Press reporter heard the officer reply, “Curfew violater. You didn’t hear the news?”

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said about 60 people were arrested near Central Park out of a large band of protesters who had marched from near the mayor’s residence, Gracie Mansion. Police moved in just before a heavy rain began.

“When we have these big crowds, especially in this area, especially where we’ve had the looting, no more tolerance. They have to be off the street. An 8 o’clock curfew, we gave them until 9 o’clock, and there was no indication that they were going to leave these streets,” Monahan said, noting that the crowd was allowed to disperse once arrests began, and most did.

City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who attended a rally in downtown Brooklyn, expressed outrage that peaceful demonstrations were broken up.

“I can’t believe what I just witnessed & experienced,” Williams wrote on twitter. He called the use of force on nonviolent protesters “disgusting.”

As the evening deepened, there were few reports of the mayhem that had occurred on several days of demonstrations, when protesters burned police vehicles and showered officers with debris. Gone also were the roving bands of people who smashed their way into scores of stores and stole merchandise Sunday and Monday nights.

Protesters also appeared to react more calmly to police attempts to break up crowds, a contrast to the early days of the protests where attempts to break up crowds were sometimes met with thrown objects.

At Gracie Mansion, demonstrators were kneeling in a moment of silence when alarms rang on cellphones, warning that the curfew was approaching.

“This means a lot to me, as a black woman,” said protester Stella Mbah, who kept marching after the curfew passed. “There are so many things police are doing wrong to us black people.”

Another demonstrator, Lisa Horton, said charges announced Wednesday against three other Minneapolis police officers in connection to Floyd’s death were a step, but she was protesting because she feels more needs to change.

“There’s been progress, but are we at a point where we can all celebrate? No,” she said, calling for “radical change” in the criminal justice system.

Tuesday night’s protests had also been mostly peaceful, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to declare that an early curfew was working.

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