NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Protests popped up all across the city for the eighth day of demonstrations on Thursday as thousands gathered for a memorial service in Brooklyn to honor the memory of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody sparked nationwide protests and riots.
At least 170 people were arrested over the course of the night, including in upper Manhattan and the Bronx, the NYPD said Friday morning.
Police confronted protesters at several locations after curfew, including near East 136th Street and Brook Avenue in Mott Haven, as well as on the Upper West Side.
The crowd in Brooklyn chanted Floyd's name and then cheered when his brother, Terrence, who lives in the borough, came to the microphone.
The massive crowd chanted "You are not alone." before an emotional Terrence Floyd, wearing a mask and a T-shirt bearing his brother's likeness, thanked them for their love and support.
"I thank God for you all showing love to my brother,'' Terrence Floyd said. "I'm just thankful, I hear about the memorials going on in Minnesota, I got a call from a friend, he's in Australia, he said there's a movement going on over there. I hear it going on all over the world."
He said he's proud of the protests that have spread across the nation, but not the destruction that has followed peaceful daytime demonstrations.
"My brother wasn't about that," he said. "The Floyds are a God-fearing family.''
"Power to the people, all of us," he said.
WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported that Public Advocate Jumaane Williams riled up the crowd when he said, "We kept the wrong president, the wrong governor and the wrong mayor." Williams spoke at the event which was held in Cadman Plaza, where the night before he witnessed officers using batons and penning in protesters who remained out after the 8 p.m. curfew.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was not treated as warmly as other speakers. Boos erupted from the crowd as he was introduced on the stage, prompting the Rev. Kevin McCall to ask for people to show respect.
But the heckling continued as the mayor spoke, nearly drowning him out.
"George Floyd cannot have been allowed to die in vain, we have to make a change in this city and in this country. I thank you, I thank you for being here to build a change," the mayor said, as many in the crowd turned their backs on the mayor and some shouted "de Blasio go home."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea were invited to the event, but did not show.
As the service concluded, thousands marched over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan for a rally in Foley Square, where throngs of protesters, police and members of the media were awaiting their arrival. It appears some people looking to make some money showed up to the protest, selling T-shirts with George Floyd's face on it that reads "I can't breathe," along with pins, especially relating to President Trump, with one reading "Impeach 45."
There was a reading of the names of people that were killed at the hands of police, going all the way back to Amadou Diallo and ending with George Floyd.
WCBS 880's Steve Burns reported there was essentially a meeting of the minds as several different groups joined together in Foley Square before deciding to keep on going.
Police stood off to the side, as they've done in days' past, keeping an eye on things and not actively engaging. As protesters started to see more officers come into the area, the chants turned to "hands up, don't shoot" — the customary note to say that they are trying to stay peaceful.
As the group marched to Washington Square Park, they took a knee at Howard and Lafayette streets, just off of Centre Street, and stayed silent for several minutes as thousands more joined them.
"All you could really hear were the radios of police officers as they stood on the sidewalks just observing," Burns reported. "Then after several minutes, the silence ended, the march began again."
The protest, which stretched nearly six blocks, eventually filed into Washington Square Park, where metal barriers surrounded the fountain, which was vandalized with graffiti earlier this week.
Protests were also held in Queens, outside Gracie Mansion, Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, in Harlem, and in Bay Ridge. A rally was also held at McCarren Park in Brooklyn and a vigil at Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan.
As has been the case all week, demonstrators remained on the streets despite the citywide curfew taking effect.
Officials imposed the curfew to restore order to the streets after several nights of looting and violence broke out in parts of the city, leaving stores damaged and ransacked. It allows the NYPD to close off streets and arrest protesters who defy the curfew.
In the first hour of the curfew Thursday, videos posted to social media showed police moving in and making arrests on the Upper East Side, the Bronx and other neighborhoods.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in the afternoon, police arrested a protester for possession of a loaded firearm in the Bronx and officers also stopped a car with Ohio plates with two men inside in possession of two gravity knives, bricks, rope, pepper spray and cans of gasoline.
"What was their intent?" he asked.
He denounced those who have hijacked peaceful protests to engage in violence and encourage fighting police during lawful arrests.
"It has to end and it has to end now," Shea said, adding that there have been three groups of people during this week's protests — demonstrators who have tried to remain peaceful, anarchists looking to cause violence and looters trying to take advantage.
Throughout the week, there have been instances of protesters shouting at police, items being thrown at officers, and several NYPD members getting injured in serious attacks. But there have also been videos that seem to depict a significant use of force against the protesters.
Shea said he will make the decisions that have to be made to hold officers accountable for their actions. He said there have been over 1,000 arrests in the week and "in a very small, under the most difficult of circumstances, there have been some bad videos." He said investigations into those incidents are progressing and some officers may be suspended.
He also offered an apology.
"For there to be calm there also must be contrition, so I am sorry, sometimes even the best, and the NYPD is the goddamn best police department in this country, but sometimes even the best fall down, so for our part in the damage to civility, for our part in racial bias, in excessive force, unacceptable behavior, unacceptable language and many other mistakes, we are human, I am sorry," Shea said. "Are you?"
He says now is the time for action and more accountability, and everyone must work together to move forward.
"We need less press conferences, less tweets, more action, more accountability for your words," Shea said. "If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth closed and let’s get together and fix this, but the hateful speech is fueling this anger that we're seeing."
George Floyd, 46, died shortly after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while placing him under arrest in Minneapolis. The 46-year-old was accused of using a forged $20 bill to pay for goods at a grocery store.
A memorial service was also held Thursday in Minneapolis. The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy at the memorial.