Last week we looked at a report on how the NYPD had actually begun cracking down on “peaceful protesters” in the Big Apple who were blocking traffic and attacking motorists. This seemed to signal a change in policy, leading me to wonder if there was some new directive coming down from City Hall about restoring order in the streets. While there has still been no official announcement from City Hall on that score, the evidence is continuing to mount suggesting that there’s been some new marching orders given to the cops and that they’re prepared to put criminals on notice. As the local CBS outlet reports this week, law enforcement once again showed up at a protest in Washington Square Park on Saturday night and put the boot to those who were refusing to obey the law.
A Black Lives Matters protest at Washington Square Park quickly escalated Saturday night after police surrounded demonstrators.
Hundreds of NYPD members surrounded the BLM protesters, then police in riot gear and on bikes rushed into the crowd.
“Just dancing, that’s all we were doing. They came out of nowhere,” one protester told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.
“We were free, dancing in the streets, alleviating our pain. We are in pain every single day, and they can’t even let us have that,” another protester said.
It remains unclear precisely what triggered the initial police response, but there were a significant number of arrests for disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration. The group had apparently organized some sort of musical performance in the park without a permit, for starters. The surrounding streets and walkways in the park were also blocked by the crowd.
What we may be seeing here, as we did in Times Square last week, is a case of the NYPD moving in and taking control before the assembled throng had the opportunity to turn it into a full-scale riot. Some of the protest organizers accused the police of “terrorizing joy.” But there was more than joyful dancing going on according to some witnesses. And after months of riots, arson and attacks on law enforcement officers, expecting the cops to just lay back and wait for the situation to spiral further out of control is unrealistic at best.
One of the more controversial aspects of the police response came when they pursued some of the participants engaged in disorderly conduct into the nearby restaurant area where people were dining outdoors because of the pandemic. Both protesters and cops wound up crashing into some of the dining areas and alarming the diners at the tables. That’s unfortunate, given how hard-pressed the restaurant owners are to even keep their doors open under the city’s oppressive lockdown orders, but if a few spilled plates of linguini wound up being the worst of the collateral damage, I suppose we can probably give them a pass.
According to the organizers of this event, the stated reason for the protest was “justice for Breonna Taylor.” They claim that they plan to continue with these protests until their idea of “justice” is delivered. That’s likely to be a very long wait, so the cops will need to remain on alert for the foreseeable future. What might really help at this point would be for Mayor Bill de Blasio to come out with an official statement about how the city will be handling all of this massive unrest in the future. It might even help him mend his relationship with the NYPD a bit during his final term in office.