Police brass fume after they say Midtown pro-Palestine protesters blocked cops from responding to grenade threat

Screenshot of protesters blocking NYPD emergency vehicle in Midtown

Police brass took to social media to rail against pro-Palestine protesters in Midtown who got in the way of an NYPD response to a suspicious device on Saturday — though the marchers blamed the cops themselves.

The war of words came mere hours after what the NYPD described as a “dangerous” situation.

According to police sources, cops found what looked to be a hand grenade in the back of a parked taxi on 42nd Street and 7th Avenue at 4:02 p.m. on March 2 when the officers requested backup from the department’s Emergency Service Unit (ESU). However, as the ESU van raced to the scene while flashing lights and blaring sirens, authorities say the officers ran into a human roadblock.

Law enforcement sources that protesters at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue got in ESU’s way. The group was part of a huge number of protesters taking part in what was called a day of action to denounce alleged human rights abuses in Gaza; the marchers had started out from Washington Square Park earlier in the day.

Regardless of the protest’s cause, police brass said obstructing a police vehicle racing to an emergency response was unacceptable.

“Blocking a street, preventing an emergency vehicle from passing is super reckless, extremely dangerous, and illegal. Those who do so endanger people’s safety & lives. Appropriate accountability & consequences is a critical deterrent — setting the tone that this is unacceptable,” NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Several videos from the scene show chaos swiftly unfold as police in riot gear wrestle with demonstrators, pushing some to the side of the road while forcefully cuffing others.

Police sources reported that 10 people were arrested for blocking the vehicle, 6 of whom were giving a desk appearance for obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest; two were charged with assault. Two others were issued summons.

“Happy Saturday to all! Except the people who thought it was a good idea to block an NYPD ESU vehicle on the way to a bomb threat call. They will be spending their Saturday where they belong – in jail!” Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry also wrote on X.

Despite reportedly being delayed for several minutes, ESU deemed the potential device to be nothing more than a novelty grenade. Still, cops say if the threat had been real New Yorkers would have been put at great risk due to the blockade.

But those who participated in the rally blamed the cops themselves for the delay, charging that the NYPD had only delayed themselves by stopping to arrest people for blocking them off. 

“Here is what actually happened, don’t listen to NYPD hasbara. SRG was blocking the road and started to attack protestors. It’s amazing how quickly NYPD can release video footage when it wants to,” X user Ali wrote.

“As always, NYPD starts a riot. Protesters were walking away from the vehicle. NYPD ESU vehicle deliberately took that route on 42nd Street, knowing they would cross paths with the march route,” user Jon Farina said.

Police completely disregarded this argument, stating that officers were merely trying to clear the street so the vehicle could pass through and potentially save lives. 

“This is dangerous! One day when the “call” is real and people get hurt, then what? I will tell you what…..silence and cowardice from all the people who advocate for protesters to be allowed to disrupt the streets. Then the first responders will arrive to do the best they can!” Chief of Patrol John Chell said on X.