New York protests: NYPD chief kneels with demonstrators and calls for end to violence

‘I thought it was appropriate. We hugged to show there’s solidarity,’ Terence Monaham says

Louise Hall
Tuesday 02 June 2020 19:48
NYC's highest-ranking uniformed member takes a knee hugs George Floyd protesters

The chief of the NYPD knelt with demonstrators and called for an end to violence against protesters in Greenwich Village.

Terence Monaham showed solidarity by hugging people in the crowd at Washington Square Park on Monday.

“I thought it was appropriate. We hugged to show there’s solidarity,” Mr Monahan told ABC7.

The chief urged for the continuation of peaceful protests and asked demonstrators to condemn violence.

“It has to end, let New York show the country how this is done”, the chief, who is the highest-ranking uniformed member of the NYPD,” said.

“Thank you for supporting us,” one organiser can be heard saying in a video from the scene, who also seemingly asked the police for more support in holding large peaceful demonstrations.

According to ABC7, the moment occurred after some people in the crowd started throwing bottles at police officers.

Chief Monahan told the outlet the protest leader asked him to take a knee with demonstrators to encourage peace.

“The people who live in New York want New York to end the violence,” he said.

“Get the intruders that are not from this city the hell out of here and give us back our city.”

Other NNYPD officers were filmed kneeling with protesters during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd across the city over the weekend.

Chief of Department of the New York City Police, Terence Monahan, hugs an activist as protesters paused while walking in New York

A video showed a number of protesters kneel and exclaim in shock and support when police officers joined them in solidarity.

“I definitely didn’t expect that,” Aleeia Abraham, the woman who recorded the footage, told CNN. “I’ve never seen that.”

Not all members of the NYPD have joined in with the periodic ‘take a knee’ protests throughout the last few days.

On Sunday, demonstrators congregated in Times Square and at one point the large crowd all took a knee, many raising a fist in the air, and began shouting “NYPD take a knee!”

A reporter for The Independent who was stationed near a group of about eight police officers monitoring the protesters noted that many protesters turned to face them as they chanted, but the police did not kneel.

The protests come following the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground by his neck for a prolonged period of time.

Outrage over Floyd’s death has erupted in the last week, with violent protests and demonstrators breaking out across the US and in particular Minneapolis, where he died.

The march in New York on Sunday was peaceful and included a couple of hundred people, Ms Abraham said.

Some of the demonstrations in the city have turned violent during the evenings with looting and vandalism.

As of Tuesday, the mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, said a week-long curfew would be imposed from 8pm until 5am, in an attempt to control the violent activity, according to The New York Times.

Taking the knee has become a widely recognised symbol of protest against police brutality and racism.

The act was originally born out of demonstrations against racism and brutality by American civil rights activist and later American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s and subsequent US athletes, who took the knee during the national anthem.

While those in the footage from Tuesday appeared to be grateful for the police chief’s gesture and the support of the police, some have emphasised how it does not compensate for the brutality black people face at the hands of the US justice system.

“I really want to be clear that that’s not enough. It’s a nice start, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Ms Abraham told CNN.

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