Large crowds that included up to 1000 cyclists crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge as part of a Black Lives Matter protest Saturday afternoon.
A number of groups joined the protest that later morphed into a vandalism spree throughout lower Manhattan, Chinatown and Little Italy – outdoor restaurant patrons having a front row seat to the protest antics that included tossing trash cans and debris into the streets and lighting fires along the way.
A number of arrests were made at Mulberry and Delancey Street when riot police moved in on shield carrying protestors who were taken into custody. There were 14 arrests at this location. Only minor injuries were reported, police said.
Several police vehicles were vandalized along the way during the evening protests, some being hit with graffiti, others with flat tires or broken windows. One police van had a sign with a picture of George Floyd with wooden pole punctured through a windshield.
The bicyclist protest made their way through the center of the city, taking out lanes at one point of West Street.
The smaller group of nearly 500 people, marched through lower Manhattan, at one point seeking to approach City Hall, only to be blocked by row of police officers seeking to keep them away from the newly cleaned plaza.
Protestors then marched into Little Italy, where numerous restaurants had set up outdoor dining, many desperate to recoup their losses from being closed during the pandemic. Many of the diners stood and clapped for the protestors in a show of support.
However, some protestors taunted diners, a few knocking over trash can and pulling them into the street to block vehicles, and more specifically police from following them. Some protestors lit fires in trash bins, restaurant owners rushing out with pitchers of waters to extinguish the flames.
“Hey, I understand they want to protest, but we are barely holding onto our businesses,” one beleaguered restaurant owner said on Mulberry Street. “Why do they have to make a mess, start fires and throw our chairs into the street?”
Many marching could be seen wearing yellow. something that’s been seen by the “wall of moms” protesting in Portland, Oregon.
The demonstration began Saturday afternoon at Cadman Plaza and continued over the bridge using the roadway, not the pedestrian crossway. Police escorted the protestors safely across the bridge, but kept heavy police presence at City Hall Park, where several protestors said they wanted to retake the plaza after #OccupyCityHall was cleared on Tuesday. A massive clean up of the plaza is still ongoing, with neighboring buildings still to be clean of graffiti.
Demonstrators emphasized that it is important for people to continue to show up.
The police presence was large, specifically on the Manhattan side of the bridge near City Hall, but the protestors avoided clashes around that area. The march ended after throngs of riot cops converged on the protestors who were blocking Delancey Street, a row of protestors with wooden shields put up a meager defense as cops confiscated their shields and arrested them.
The protest Saturday was much larger than protests seen in recent days across the city. The protest were also in sympathy with the demonstrators in Seattle and Portland where riot conditions were reported and many arrests and injuries occurred.
The protests have continued in some ways even as police departments have suffered heavy budget cuts and crime has spike throughout the city and nation.