New York had not known a curfew since 1943, when it was decreed by then-Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to quell protests in Harlem over the police shooting of a Black soldier. History is repeating itself now with the death of George Floyd, the black man who was killed by a cop in Minneapolis last week.
Those who arrived at the Barclays Center to demonstrate were the first to defy a curfew in New York City in a long time. The police, who are trying to provide a measured response at a time of high social and political tension, let things slide. There were more officers than protesters gathered and they did not try to impose a curfew. Several police cars and vans escorted the group on their peaceful march to the Manhattan Bridge, one of three bridges linking Brooklyn to the New York island. The few cars that passed on the street honked their congratulations as the group broke up over the blocks. The protesters occupied and crossed one of the lanes of the bridge, the group getting thinner, almost in silence, with the city shut down by curfew, until they reached Manhattan, without provoking the police or making any trouble.
Most of yesterday’s protests in New York and the rest of the country were peaceful, although the violence, amid threats from Donald Trump to use a stronger hand, did not go away. The Big Apple was no exception and the looting that Soho – one of New York’s most exclusive shopping areas – had experienced on Sunday moved to Midtown on Monday. Hordes of young people, many of them minors, ravaged shops and businesses.
Most of the looting occurred before the curfew began, so authorities have moved it up to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.