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The threat of a pandemic did not keep New Yorkers home as protesters across the city took to the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter” calling for several police reforms. Largely peaceful, several demonstrators defied the city’s 8 P.M. curfew. Protests continued Saturday. NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker reports on what protesters would like to see changed.
In the middle of an early-evening downpour yesterday, hundreds gathered to protest against police brutality following the death of George Floyd last week at the hands of the Minneapolis Police.
Black lives matter! Black lives matter!"
This march through the south Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park, was one of about a dozen protests across the city just yesterday. And rain and the threat of a pandemic did not keep protesters at home.
I have to do something. I can't just stay home and pretend like this isn't happening. Hopefully this brings people closer, this stops the violence, especially against people that look like myself and others.
As the peaceful march wound itself through the streets of Brooklyn, past dozens of police officers, we heard what protesters would like to see changed. Jasmine Ramos and Candice Deo were out for the second day in a row.
The system needs to be fixed. We can't have these monsters abusing their uniforms.
What is a fix? People are looking for specifics, what does change look like to you?
I feel like the training, we should start weeding out these people in training.
There were also signs to defund the police and disarm them. And calls to repeal 50-A, the New York State law that protects police personnel records, including misconduct allegations.
This march ended at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal jail where Jamel Floyd, a 35 year-old black man with no relation to George Floyd, died on Wednesday after corrections officers pepper sprayed him. The Justice Department's Inspector General is investigating the incident.
About 2 miles away, two other protests converged and marched together. organizers stopped after several blocks, and then led protesters in song.
Happy Birthday… Happy Birthday to you!
The song was for Breonna Taylor, who would have been 27 on Friday. She was killed by Louisville police in March when officers executed a no-knock search warrant. Police said they mistakenly believed there were drugs inside.
All week, there have been peaceful demonstrations, vigils, and rallies all over the city. But a citywide curfew imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday has led police to confront protesters, sometimes with force, across the city.
It's eight o'clock and the city's curfew has arrived. And the crowd has started to disperse, seeming to avoid conflict with police for now.
As marchers continued last night, things were mostly peaceful, with many marchers continuing hours past the 8 P.M. curfew without being arrested. But as the night went on, at least a dozen people were arrested around the city.
The mayor has faced criticism for not preventing looting and property destruction earlier in the week, and not doing enough to protect peaceful protesters. At a memorial on Thursday for George Floyd, his speech was drowned out by boos. The mayor has pledged that the curfew will remain – as originally scheduled – through this weekend.
Christopher Booker joins us now from Brooklyn, New York. Chris, what did you see this morning?
Well, we're back in Brooklyn at the Grand Army Plaza, where people have started to assemble for what will be a march to City Hall. This is just one of many demonstrations taking place across the city.
There's been a lot of criticism about how the New York Police Department dealt with some of the protesters over the past few days. Any developments on that?
Well, last night with us as we marched through Brooklyn I will say the police were very much 'hands-off'. Now this all took place before the curfew. Meanwhile, in the city they did announce that two officers had been suspended without pay following incidents last week.
This is still happening in the middle of a pandemic. Are the people that you spoke with, are they concerned about that? Do you see, uses of masks?
Absolutely. The pandemic is still very much front and center. I mean you can see just behind me pretty much everyone is wearing a mask. Now social distancing is a bit different. You know the crowd would kinda function like an accordion. As they would march through the streets they would spread out. But often when they came to speak, they would come back together and then spread back out again.
Now, again, this is just an observation, the folks that weren't wearing masks? The police force. You would see some officers wearing masks, but not many. Also moving through the protesters were people giving out hand sanitizer, water, and we even came upon a group that was handing out 3D-printed face shields. Also, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that it was the civic duty of protesters to get a Corona test. And the state actually expanded the criteria for testing to include people that had attended protests.
Christopher Booker joining us from Brooklyn tonight. Thanks so much.
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Christopher Booker is a correspondent and producer for PBS NewsHour Weekend covering music, culture, our changing economy and news of the cool and weird. He also teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, following his work with Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in Chicago and Doha, Qatar.
Sam Weber has covered everything from living on minimum wage to consumer finance as a shooter/producer for PBS NewsHour Weekend. Prior joining NH Weekend, he previously worked for Need to Know on PBS and in public radio. He’s an avid cyclist and Chicago Bulls fan.
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