Well over a thousand Brooklynites gathered at Restoration Plaza in Bed-Stuy on Monday, in a peaceful protest for racial justice, on the heals of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man strangled by police officers in Minnesota on May 25.
From their rooftops, windows and stoops, residents cheered and shook tambourines, as the protesters marched from the plaza at Marcy Avenue and Fulton Street, to the 77th Police Precinct in Crown Heights, criss-crossing the borough until the early morning hours, chanting such slogans as, “How do you spell racist? NYPD!” and “No justice, no peace!” as
Organizers wearing Malcom X t-shirts and surrounded by black liberation flags addressed the marchers at the onset of the protest, urging the demonstrators to march peacefully while making their voices heard.
Volunteers handed out water, snacks and face masks. Others burned sage in the streets as marchers passed.
Twenty-three-year-old Allison Hall of Crown Heights took part in the march sporting a home-done tattoo on her bicep that read “ACAB” — an acronym that stands for “All Cops Are Bad.”
“I want them to see that we’re not going to take this anymore. And if the cops are going to kill black people in the street, we are going to riot,” she said.
It was the fifth night of protests in New York City following the killing of George Floyd. While shops in Midtown Manhattan were ransacked by looters, and in the Bronx, protesters set fires on the streets and reportedly attacked police officers, Monday evening’s protests in Brooklyn remained peaceful, despite moments of tension.
One such moment came when a non-black protester approached a police barricade outside of the 77th Precinct and started shouting toward the officers, “NYPD, suck my d*ck!” and a young black woman ran over to stop him.
“You’re a grown man telling another man to suck your d*ck. This is a Black Lives Matter protest. Don’t do that on behalf of us. That’s not the message we’re trying to get out,” Crystal Brister explained after the confrontation.
Organizers urged white protesters to connect Floyd’s death and police brutality with broader issues affecting Brooklyn.
“Our white colleagues are here to support us, but they should know that it’s not just the police killing us in the street,” a speaker told the crowd at Restoration Plaza. “They’re running us out of our own neighborhood. They call it gentrification, but it’s really ethnic cleansing.”
Later at the 77th precinct, one group of protesters faced off with a line of cops, shouting “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” and “Quit your job!” at the officers, many of whom had covered their badge numbers.
Other protesters urged the demonstrators to keep moving. “It’s not worth it! Don’t give them a reason!” one organizer told the crowd.
While the protest held up traffic across Brooklyn, many drivers honked or raised their fists in solidarity with the marchers. One driver who was stuck in place in Bed-Stuy began blasting “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley from his speakers, provoking huge cheers from the passing demonstrators.
Just after 1:00am, there were still a couple hundred protesters marching near Grand Army Plaza, despite the 11:00pm citywide curfew declared earlier in the day. NYPD vans with their lights on followed behind the marchers at a distance, but didn’t intervene.
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