At least 72 New Yorkers were arrested in Lower Manhattan on Thursday evening as they protested the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Aiden Smith, 34, explained to Gothamist why he ignored the guidance to stay-at-home during a pandemic.
“Because I'm a black man living in America," Smith said. "Why can't we just live our life, the way we want to live our life, and take care of our kids, without being judged and being picked on and bullied and being shot at and being killed?"
At a news appearance on Friday morning, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said that five of those arrested were charged with felony assault of an officer, 33 were charged with various misdemeanors, and 34 were charged with "various violations."
"Our goal was just to take the troublemakers," Monahan said. "This group was bent on fighting the police."
Chief Monahan claimed that two officers suffered concussions, one after being hit with a garbage can, and another who was thrown to the ground.
"We've been through this before," Monahan said, referring to the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of a Staten Island grand jury's decision to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for fatally choking Eric Garner.
"The vast majority of people are out there to express their views."
After police broke up the larger crowd at Union Square, smaller groups marched down Lafayette Street and congregated on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse near City Hall. There, some 100 or so demonstrates were met by dozens of police officers behind a wall of motorcycles. With the protesters essentially kettled, tensions rose. Someone threw two plastic water bottles, and police began seizing people out of the crowd to arrest them.
Some of the protesters who were arrested appeared to be young teenagers. An NYPD spokesperson could not provide the ages or names of those arrested.
Nicole, a 20-year-old from Fort Greene Brooklyn, said she was out protesting because "my brother could be dead right now, the way these cops are moving."
She added, "I'm sick of always having to be scared for my dad's life, my brother's life, my friends' lives, everyone that I care about."
Other protests against police brutality are scheduled for Friday at Foley Square at 4 p.m., and Brooklyn's Barclays Center at 6 p.m.
Carlos Hernandez, a 27-year-old political science student, added, “The slave labor and lynching is supposed to be over—it’s never been over. If people don't go to the streets and they don’t go to protest asking for justice, that will never stop."
Additional reporting from Andy Mai.