The protests following the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man strangled by police in Minnesota on May 25, continued in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Despite the demonstrations themselves being overwhelmingly peaceful, NYPD officers began to shut down protests with violent arrests in Downtown Brooklyn and Crown Heights after the city’s 8pm curfew, according to witness accounts.
One of the borough’s many protests began at Eastern Parkway and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, and marched to McCaren Park then to Domino Park in honor of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman shot by police eight times in her Louisville, Kentucky home in March.
Marching south on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, protesters shouted up at residents watching from balconies or windows.
“Get down here, gentrifiers!” one protester shouted.
“Come down for the Instagram, whites!” said another.
From a platform at Domino Park, where the group arrived around 7pm, organizers addressed the crowd and spoke about the plight of black women in America.
“We’re here for our black sisters, whose postpartum death rate is astronomically high. Black women always show up for black men, so we’ve got to show up for black women,” one speaker told the crowd of over one thousand demonstrators gathered along the waterfront.
“This has to be used as a trigger,” another speaker told the protesters. “You being here doesn’t change anything. Most of you are friends or family with white cops and judges. Your job is to go back to your community and uproot white supremacy.”
The demonstrators dispersed ahead of the the 8pm curfew, while other marches proceeded nearby. A group of approximately 1,000 marched east along Metropolitan Avenue, eventually making its way through South Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights, where there were still a few hundred protesters marching just before 10pm, despite the curfew and despite a brief downpour.
Several NYPD vans followed the group with their lights on, but did not interfere with protesters.
Meanwhile, NYPD officers boxed another protest group into Cadman Plaza around sunset, then pulled out batons at about 9pm and started beating the trapped demonstrators, resulting in multiple injuries, according to an account posted to Twitter by New York Times reporter Ali Watkins.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams witnessed the incident, which he called “disgusting.”
Just after 11pm at Bergen Street and New York Avenue in Crown Heights, reporter Scott Heins witnessed police vans loaded with arrestees, and heard from witnesses who said the police made violent arrests just before.
Dozens of peaceful protesters were also arrested on the Upper East Side of Manhattan Wednesday night.
While Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that the police should not use violence against non-violent protesters, even after curfew, he defended the NYPD’s use of force during a press conference Thursday morning, citing the curfew.