New York City’s late-night curfew has failed to prevent another night of destruction, including arrests after a break-in at Manhattan’s flagship Macy’s store on 34th Street, following protests over George Floyd’s death.
As the 11pm deadline to get off the streets approached, protesters marched peacefully through Manhattan and Brooklyn.
However, police responded to numerous reports of roving groups of people smashing their way into shops and emptying them of merchandise.
The doors of Macy’s were breached. Later, police pulled two handcuffed men out and put them in a van.
People also rushed into a Nike store and carried out armloads of clothing. Near Rockefeller Centre, storefront windows were smashed and multiple people arrested. Bank windows were smashed, with wreckage littered the inside of an AT&T store.
Video posted on social media showed some protesters arguing with people breaking windows, urging them to stop, but instances of vandalism and smash-and-grab thefts mounted as the night went on.
New York joined other cities around the country in imposing a curfew after days of unrest.
It comes on top of months of restrictions on public gatherings already imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Enough mayhem happened before the curfew took effect that city mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that it would move up to 8pm on Tuesday. The curfew lifts at 5am.
Mr de Blasio and state governor Andrew Cuomo said the outbreaks of violence over the previous two evenings which left stores ransacked and police vehicles burned gave them no choice to impose a curfew and boost police presence, even as they insisted they stood with the throngs of peaceful demonstrators who have spoken out for several days against police brutality and racial injustice.
“We can’t let violence undermine the message of this moment,” Mr de Blasio said in a statement.
Big crowds rallied in Times Square and Brooklyn on Monday afternoon and marched through the streets for hours. As in previous days, the demonstrations in daylight were peaceful, with officers mostly keeping their distance from marchers. A nighttime march through Brooklyn was also peaceful, and police let it continue for hours after the 11pm curfew passed.
However, midtown Manhattan descended into chaos as night fell. There were dozens of arrests, police said. Mr de Blasio later tweeted that there were also “real problems” in the Bronx, which had largely escaped previous nights of unrest unscathed.
Video posted on social media showed multiple piles of rubbish on fire on a debris-strewn street and people smashing into stores.
Another video showed a group of men beating a police officer who was alone and down on the ground, smashing him with pieces of wreckage until he pulled his gun and they ran.
After the curfew took effect, police moved more actively to clear the streets, chasing after and knocking down some people who would not comply as they streamed toward Times Square.
At the same time, the city’s elected public advocate, Jumaane Williams, and some other officials held a news conference in Brooklyn criticising the curfew.
“In the black community, every time we ask for resources or assistance, they send police,” said Mr Williams, a Democrat.
City police commissioner Dermot Shea had expressed doubts earlier on Monday about whether a curfew would be heeded.