NYPD and protesters engaged in a violent confrontation on Monday night outside City Hall Park in NYC that resulted in dozens of arrests and at least eleven injured officers. The protest began as an ode to Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday but ended in chaos and violence.
The faceoff began around 8:30 p.m. when hundreds of protesters that originally met outside the Barclays Center marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in a demonstration honoring Martin Luther King Jr., according to social media posts. The event was dubbed the Black Liberation March.
When the throng of activists hit Manhattan, they were met with a heavy police presence and a street fight commenced. At least eleven police officers were hurt in the scuffles. None of them seriously. One of them was a police captain who was struck in the helmet with a bottle. One protester swung a stick at an officer and was arrested for it.
Demonstrators blocked traffic, threw bottles, and vandalized property, and police started making arrests. Profanity was common and the hatred for police was palpable.
Bicycles and barricades were knocked around in the scuffle, and some people were pushed to the ground. Officers dragged away others in zip ties.
Videos posted on Twitter show parts of the clash, with officers lining Centre St., ordering protesters off the roadway.
In one video that was posted on Twitter, police can be seen charging towards and pushing several protesters. They wrestled another person to the ground on the street amid being called sociopaths and psychopaths for doing so.
“F–k you,” was shouted from the crowd of protesters yelling at the police. “You f—ing animals,” other people shouted.
Witnesses said police ordered marchers onto the sidewalk, only to plunge into the crowd and make arrests.
“They definitely charged multiple times,” said Egypt Staley, 22, of Washington Heights. “Some people were just being grabbed off the sidewalk. Some people were not even facing them.”
One video shows protesters on the sidewalk and police standing in the middle of Centre St. while a recording warns the demonstrators if they remain on the roadway they will be arrested.
NYPD attacking protesters at City Hall Park pic.twitter.com/BHtH76kyde
— Isabelle Leyva (@isabelle_leyva) January 19, 2021
“They were really violent. Cops were pushing, shoving folks, pummeling people, tackling them,” said Helen Guzman, 30.
Staley also accused the officers of herding and blocking the protesters. “They surrounded us. People were trying to leave. Some people were like, ‘How can I even leave?’ ” Staley said.
Twitter user @thizzl_ documented the march in a series of tweets, writing that it started out as “peaceful, joyous and powerful,” and that “NYPD ended the fun once we got to the other side of the BK bridge.”
Twenty-eight were arrested near Chambers and Centre streets. The protesters were charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, and blocking the roadway.
Ironically, as the scene was playing out, Mayor Bill de Blasio was being interviewed concerning police reform and state Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the NYPD for its treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer.
“Here, we have 100% commitment to reform,” de Blasio told NY1, adding, “and you’re going to see something that we’ve needed in this city for a long time.”
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