At least 11 NYPD cops were hurt and some 30 “protesters” were arrested, police said, during clashes that began as a march called the “Fight for Black Liberation” and which was supposed to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The march started at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, grew as it continued over the Brooklyn Bridge and surged onward to City Hall Park, where the marchers were met by police.
At that point, it became chaotic, according to multiple local media reports and video footage on social media.
Demonstrators blocked traffic, hurled bottles and damaged property. A police captain was struck in the helmet with a bottle hurled by one of the rioters.
All of this was under the pretext of protesters occupying the street (even though they had just marched across the Brooklyn Bridge road). Ppl would refuse to disperse, then cops would get violent, then ppl would gather again, then cops would tackle more, over and over. pic.twitter.com/xqVbuZgDWu
— Chris Gelardi (@chrisgelardi) January 19, 2021
Many protesters screeched curses at the police and some spit in the officers’ faces, shrieking “F—-k you!!!!” “F — ing animals,” and “F—–ing psychopaths.” One woman sneered, “Do you feel good about yourselves? Do you go home and beat your wife, you f—–ing scumbags?”
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in speaking in an interview on the “Mornings on 1” program on NY1 cable television that claims of a “peaceful” demonstration were pure bunk.
“When you march from Brooklyn over a bridge, you try to shut down the traffic on the bridge. You’re bringing bottles. You’re bringing graffiti. You’re spray painting our city. This is our city. You’re spray painting to burn our city down,” he said.
“This isn’t actions that are caused by police officers so that’s a news flash for the AG. This is actions caused by people that want to destroy our way of life and our city and we’re not going to let it happen,” Shea added.
NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Edward Riley said in a statement released Tuesday that the clashes began after police formed a protective ring around a photographer filming the protests, who was being harassed by the demonstrators.
“Officers who formed a circle to protect and remove her then had glass bottles thrown at them,” Riley said. “Other officers used a public address system to give clear, audible directions for protesters to leave the roadway.”
In the clearly edited footage seen on social media, it appeared NYPD officers were targeting protesters and circling them for arrest.