By morning, the devastation in Manhattan was unlike anything New York had seen since the blackout of 1977. Block after block of boutiques in the Flatiron district had their windows shattered and’ their goods looted.

All down Broadway and through the side streets of SoHo, the destruction was widespread and indiscriminate, from chain drugstores to the Chanel boutique, from the Adidas outlet to Dolce & Gabbana…

“I don’t think this has anything to do with Black Lives Matter,” said a 24-year-old man at the corner of Houston and Broadway, some time after midnight. “It’s just chaos. People are just using this as an excuse to act crazy, do stuff they never dreamed of doing before.”

The man declined to give his name, because he, too, was looting, and because he said he worked during the day as a security guard.