Protesters flee as they loot the Balenciaga store in SoHo after marching against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd in Manhattan on June 2, 2020. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)
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While thousands took to the streets Monday to seek justice in the wake of the police-involved death of Minneapolis’ George Floyd, hundreds used the event as cover to go on a looting rampage across New York City.
As night fell, the looters smashed and bashed their way into shuttered stores in Manhattan, from designer retailers in SoHo to chain pharmacies in Midtown. They even hit up a few banks and pried open the ATMs for the cash inside.
Even the iconic Macy’s department store in Herald Square wasn’t spared, as looters vandalized the landmark retailer and set fires outside it.
The 11 p.m. curfew couldn’t stop the shopping spree, as the frenzy went on into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Neither could the plywood barriers or roll-down gates that the retailers employed.
Police reported at least 700 arrests citywide for looting as of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Throughout Monday, public officials warned residents about looting, vandalism, assaults on police officers and other acts that served to undermine the message of the peaceful protests following Floyd’s death last week. The pursuit of criminal justice reform by the many, they argued, would be overshadowed by the criminal acts of the few advantageous individuals.
Still, the shameful looting went on — and New Yorkers who want peace and justice are left to ask, “Why?”