BY MARK HALLUM, TODD MAISEL, ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH AND ROBERT POZARYCKI
Hundreds of protesters marched on Foley Square in Manhattan Friday afternoon calling for justice following the police-involved death of unarmed George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this week.
It’s the second straight day of protests in New York City connected to Floyd’s death, and comes just hours after prosecutors charged one of the officers involved with murder and manslaughter.
Chanting “No justice, no peace!” among other slogans (some with unsavory language), the protesters demanded not only justice for Floyd but also an end to acts of police brutality and racial profiling.
The atmosphere, while charged, resulted in just a handful of arrests — a stark contrast to the Thursday demonstration in Union Square, where dozens wound up in cuffs.
The more eye-catching display to make an impact in Foley Square on Friday was a painting by James Sessoms.
On canvas, he depicted a police offers behind bars with his mouth agape. Before the piece Sessoms stood shirtless, in American flag print shorts and heavy chains around his wrists.
“Enough is enough. Police are just going crazy killing too many of us,” Sessoms said while describing his personal oeuvre. “Political art, drugs, anything that depicts pain or suffering.”
For Carl Fuller, a representative from Lifecamp, was spreading the seemingly simple message that Black Lives Matter.
“We’re hear to let them know that we have a voice, even beyond the grave, because if you kill us we’re still coming. We’re not going to stop until you recognize us as human beings,” Fuller said. “They already have an arrest, where’s the conviction, what’s the sentence, where’s the punishment… He made the decision to become the executioner. Now what’s going to be his punishment?”
While many have criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s s condolences on George Floyd’s murder has been contrast from his hesitancy – five years worth – to fire Daniel Pantaleo in regard to the death of Eric Garner, Fuller welcomed hizzoner’s words.
“Everybody has credibility, no one is exempt,” Fuller continued. “If it happens to your child you’re going to join us; join us before in happens.”
Many of the protesters wore masks during the proceedings to protect themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were choice words as well for President Trump, whose inflammatory tweet brought condemnation from lawmakers across the country. (WARNING: Graphic language, viewer discretion advised).
During the demonstration, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea spoke at City Hall urging all involved in the Foley Square protest — and another march scheduled later tonight near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — to exercise caution and avoid lashing out.
“What we’re seeing is that pain and anger that people have grown up with and never for a moment have been able to get away from — that, at any given moment, they might be singled out for who they are and the results might be deadly,” de Blasio said. “To all who are protesting, please, even if you’re expressing that pain and anger, please remember how important it is to protest peacefully. The only way we’re going to make things right is by somehow finding a way to work together.”
Shea acknowledged that protests on Thursday at Union Square resulted in confrontations that ended with dozens of arrests and a number of officers injured. He stated that the officers patrolling the demonstrations would be respectful of the protesters’ rights, but nonetheless implored the marchers to be careful.
“Our goal is simple: to allow people to peacefully assemble and voice their opinions and concern. We’ll do whatever we can with the protest organizers is to make sure this happens,” the commissioner said. “We’re asking everyone to exercise caution, do this safely. Let’s come together not only as a city but as a country. Protesting is part of the American way of life, but let’s do it responsibility and not in a way that endangers anyone further.”
Videos by Todd Maisel and Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech