Call it a tale of two protests in New York, just 48 hours before Election Day.
Ten people were arrested Sunday afternoon during an anti-Trump protest near High Line Park in Chelsea. Two self-identified journalists were among the arrested, whom police claimed were “in the street.”
Meanwhile, at around the same time, a pro-Trump caravan blocked traffic on the Whitestone Bridge — and were allowed to move on virtually unscathed, with no evidence of any enforcement action taken.
One of the journalists arrested in Chelsea, wearing two cameras and carrying an umbrella, was tackled to the ground as she walked onto the sidewalk after being ordered from the street. A second journalist wearing a press identification from a foreign country, was nabbed after he stepped off the curb nearby.
The NYPD later claimed on Twitter that the reports of journalist arrests were false, as the pair of reporters apparently lacked official, NYPD-issued police credentials.
It is being reported on social media that earlier today members of the press were arrested during a protest in Manhattan.
These reports are false.
All arrested individuals from today's protests have been verified to not be NYPD credentialed members of the press.” pic.twitter.com/Xbxhk1FK79
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 1, 2020
Eight other people were arrested for various offenses from “failing to follow lawful orders,” disorderly conduct and in some cases for assaulting an officer.
The demonstration by members of several different left-wing groups paraded from Madison Square Park, where things started out on a positive, upbeat note. They then walked west on 23rd Street towards Chelsea Pier in anticipation of countering a pro-Trump caravan that was supposed to be headed this way.
But when they realized the pro-Trump caravan wasn’t coming, the marchers began walking back east on 24th Street, with no real destination having been decided.
The pro-Trumpers instead headed up north to Westchester County for their Sunday spectacle. It emanated from Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn and moved through Howard Beach, Queens.
When the caravan got to the Whitestone Bridge, the rally came to a stop on the bridge, with some demonstrators getting out of their cars and stopping traffic, despite having a police department escort.
It was not known whether any summonses or arrests were made in this incident. They then continued on to Westchester County for a rally. A planned pass by Trump Tower in Manhattan was still on the agenda, leaders had said.
The caravan grew larger in Westchester County — where the Trumpists again blocked traffic while crossing the Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge.
One Chelsea demonstrator, who identified himself only as Jeff, said “the police didn’t have to do what they did.”
“We were walking on 24th Street and they came with their helmeted guys, their clubs, and their bikes and started using a loud speaker warning people on the sidewalk and the vast majority of people were listening—even that lady with the cameras—she was heading for the sidewalk when the big cop went after her,” Jeff said. “Then, all hell broke loose and they were just picking people out. I don’t know why because we didn’t even have a plan at that point and it was raining.”
A commander at the scene said the “non NYC credentialed” journalists were arrested because “they were in the street.” It’s not clear what charges were lodged against them at this time. No journalists wearing an NYPD issued press card were arrested.
See video capturing some of the incidents:
The NYPD is gearing up for protests that some are expecting to follow the Nov. 3 election that could come from far left or far right activists, depending upon whether President Trump wins or looses.
In the meantime, some stores have boarded up their windows in anticipation that there may be violence. Workmen were putting up plywood on the Prada store Sunday afternoon, directly across from Trump Tower. Police presence had been stepped up in recent days and streets were clogged, mostly because of an unstable crane on West 57th Street, forcing the closure of that street and surrounding areas.
Further down, Saks Fifth Avenue had boarded up part of their store windows on side streets and the Guess Store was completely boarded up as a precaution from protests.