New York City takes ‘step forward’ in restoring order, says Mayor

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As protests continued in New York City on Wednesday, officials were hopeful that an earlier curfew and refined police tactics will bring the city closer to restoring order after days of unrest over the death of George Floyd.

“Last night we took a step forward in moving out of this difficult period we’ve had the last few days and moving to a better time," Mayor Bill de Blasio said

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was critical of the police response on prior nights, said the city Tuesday “was much, much better than the night before.”

“It worked. We got results," Cuomo said. "Let’s just remember what we did last night and keep that going.”

Police arrest protesters as they march through the streets of Manhattan, New York, on June 3, 2020. (AP)
Police arrest protesters as they march through the streets of Manhattan, New York, on June 3, 2020. (AP)

De Blasio rejected President Donald Trump’s urging and Cuomo’s offer to send in the National Guard to quell the unrest, saying the NYPD was best suited for the task and fearing out-of-town Guardsmen unfamiliar with city dynamics could spark confrontations.

Trump warned that if the city didn’t maintain order, he would take the matter into his own hands, though he didn’t say what action he might take.

“If they don’t get their act straightened out, I will solve it. I’ll solve it fast,” he said on FOX News Radio’s The Brian Kilmeade Show.

Hundreds of protesters were in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park when it was announced Wednesday that three other Minneapolis police officers would be charged in connection to Floyd’s death.

“It’s not enough," protester Jonathan Roldan said, contending all four officers should’ve been charged from the start. "Right now, we’re still marching because it’s not enough that they got arrested. There needs to be systematic change.”

The curfew, barring people from streets citywide and nonessential vehicles from part of Manhattan from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., was imposed to prevent the nighttime chaos that followed peaceful protests for several days in a row.

Vandalism and pilfering didn’t stop completely Tuesday. Some shops had windows smashed and merchandise taken. But it was a contrast from the previous two days, when several Manhattan shopping districts and one in the Bronx were overrun with people — some with crowbars and clubs — who ransacked numerous shops and set fires.

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Moving the curfew from 11 p.m., where it had been on Monday, as well as blocking vehicles from entering Manhattan, allowed police to take control of city streets and remove troublemakers, Chief of Department Terence Monahan said.

The curfew did not stop political demonstrations over police mistreatment of black Americans. Marchers chanted slogans as they wound through Manhattan and Brooklyn deep into the night Tuesday. The marches were part of a wave of protests across the country since the May 25 death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

The nightly curfews will remain in effect at least through Sunday, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of shutdowns because of the coronavirus.

Police said they arrested about 280 people on Tuesday, compared with 700 the previous night. In all, more than 2,000 people have been arrested, the NYPD said.

City officials have said, without offering much evidence, that out-of-town agitators have been responsible for the majority of attacks on police officers seen over the last few days and that many involved in removing items from store shelves weren’t protesters, but organized groups that used vehicles to scout locations and remove stolen property.

The police commissioner had planned to appear together with Floyd’s brother Wednesday at a Brooklyn church, but Terrence Floyd decided shortly before the event began that he was too overcome to attend, organizers said. Shea said he’d offered his condolences to Floyd on the phone.