Breonna Taylor protests: NYPD criticised for charging at BLM demonstrators among diners in Manhattan

Police were filmed charging into small, calm crowd after clearing protesters from park

Andrew Naughtie
Sunday 27 September 2020 19:24
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A protest in Breonna Taylor's name in New York City
A protest in Breonna Taylor's name in New York City
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New York City police officers have come in for harsh criticism over their harsh actions against peaceful protesters in lower Manhattan last night, which saw multiple officers charge forcefully into people standing in the street.

The protesters involved were demonstrating against the leniency granted to officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment earlier this year.

The incident reportedly occurred after the NYPD broke up a protest in Washington Square Park. When a group of people from the protest walked a short distance to a street where numerous others were dining outside, a large number of police suddenly charged them and made several arrests.

The department has since said a number of arrests were made, including for disorderly conduct, but has not explained what actions if any demanded the police response recorded on video.

New York City council speaker Corey Johnson, who recently dropped out of the mayoral race, tweeted his disapproval on Sunday morning as footage of the incident spread on social media.

“What happened last night in the Village was unacceptable. The right to protest is sacrosanct. Or at least it should be. We keep seeing incidents that show this right being disregarded. This is unacceptable and must end.”

Other city officials made their feelings plain too. “My office is in contact with the NYPD about the use of force on New Yorkers on 10th and Hudson tonight,” wrote state senator Brad Hoylman.

“But we’re exhausted of seeing video after video, and hearing from constituents in person, of inexplicable escalations that undermine an already fragile trust.”

The NYPD has been repeatedly accused of excessive violence against protesters since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis this summer lit a fire under anti-racism and anti-police protests throughout the US. Reams of footage have been released from protests throughout the summer showing protesters – including people with their hands up – being shoved, punched, thrown to the ground, beaten with hand weapons, and attacked with pepper spray.

Meanwhile, across the country, anger at the Breonna Taylor investigation continued to play out on the streets of major cities last night as police cracked down hard on mostly peaceful protesters.

In Ms Taylor’s home city of Louisville, 25 people were arrested during Saturday night’s protests as hundreds of people turned out to protest before being mostly dispersed as city authorities arrived to enforce a curfew. A group of protesters convened at a unitarian church, where the Louisville police say vandalism broke out. The force posted footage from the scene on Twitter.

Other major protests unfolded in Portland and Seattle, which have seen some of the US’s most severe street violence since George Floyd was killed. In Portland, police were filmed attacking unarmed journalists and protesters on the streets – hours after a lightly policed rally by the far-right Proud Boys, which saw white militiamen openly displaying heavy weapons and physically attacking people live-streaming from the event.  

Police in Los Angeles, meanwhile, are reportedly facing an investigation after video emerged appearing to show an officer striking a protester multiple times on the ankles using his shield while the man lay face down in the street.

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