Video shows NYPD SUVs ram into crowd protesting George Floyd killing; mayors comments criticized
Two New York Police Department vehicles plowed into demonstrators rallying against police brutality Saturday as the crowd pushed a barricade against one of them and pelted it with objects.
The incident occurred near Prospect Park in Brooklyn and was captured on at least two videos – one from the street and one from above – that were shared widely on social media. Several people were knocked to the ground, and it was unclear if anyone was hurt.
While some condemned the actions of the officers, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the officers saying their safety was threatened by the crowd.
“Look, I’ve seen that video, and I’ve obviously heard about a number of other instances – it’s inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers,” de Blasio said at a news conference late Saturday.
“It’s clear that a different element has come into play here who are trying to hurt police officers and trying to damage their vehicles, and if a police officer is [in] that situation they have to get out that situation,” he said.
He added that “the video was upsetting, and I wish the officers hadn’t done that. But I also understood that they didn’t start the situation. The situation was started by a group of protesters converging on a police vehicle, attacking that vehicle, it’s unacceptable.”
The overhead video begins with a shot of an NYPD SUV being blocked by demonstrators with a metal barrier. A bag of garbage, a traffic cone and cans are thrown at the SUV.
A second NYPD SUV then drives around the blocked one and then slowly pushes through the crowd who bang on it. The first SUV then jolts forward pushing several demonstrators to the ground. At least one demonstrator then jumps on the hood of the first SUV before the video ends.
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, said the officers could have killed many demonstrators. She criticized de Blasio for his comments.
“This moment demands leadership & accountability from each of us,” she wrote in a tweet. “Defending and making excuses for NYPD running SUVs into crowds was wrong.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea didn’t directly address the incident.
But in a tweet posted on Sunday morning, Shea told his officers that he is “extremely proud of the way you’ve comported yourselves in the face of such persistent danger, disrespect, and denigration” via a tweet Sunday morning.
“What it was, quite frankly, was a mob bent solely on taking advantage of a moment in American history, to co-opt the cause of equality that we all must uphold, to intentionally inflict chaos, mayhem, and injury just for the sake of doing so,” Shea wrote.
Protests continued for the third consecutive night Saturday. It was the city’s worst day of unrest in decades as fires burned, windows got smashed and dangerous confrontations between demonstrators and officers flared.
New York City police said 345 people were arrested, 33 officers were injured and 27 police vehicles were damaged.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Reach reporter Scott Fallon via email (email@example.com) or on Twitter: @newsfallon