How the Floyd Protests Turned Into a 24-Hour ‘Occupy City Hall’ in N.Y.

Jun 28, 2020 · 69 comments
Christopher Loonam (New York)
A city of 8,000,000 people. Sorry, but a few hundred sitting outside city hall don’t decide these things.
moreandless (New York)
@Christopher Loonam Christopher, the few hundred people sitting outside City Hall are already having an impact: millions in the city and throughout the nation are aware of their demands and amplifying their support via petitions, calls, and activism. A few can make a huge difference in the pursuit of a more equitable society.
Ronald Weinstein (New York)
120,000 Americans were killed by a virus. It could all have been prevented. 120,000 people of whom 99.9% were law abiding, tax paying, no-criminal record people. Nobody protests that. Nobody wanted to close the borders. But god forbid the well being and comfort of violent criminals be put at risk.
Becka W (Connecticut)
@Ronald Weinstein excuse me but are you calling black people violent criminals? When black and brown people are being killed at routine traffic stops for doing nothing wrong they were not violent criminals. When black and brown teenagers are harassed in the streets and not allowed to sit on their own front steps without being harassed not allowed to walk down the street in a group without being accused of doing something wrong there's a problem. Plenty of people protested Corona virus It's called staying at home and wearing a mask. We did close our borders to inbound flights well sort of... We did try to discourage the freedom fighters from going into government buildings without masks and screaming in cops faces for the right to infect people. Maybe you should take those things into consideration.
marrtyy (manhattan)
The media needs the story more than the public. In general I'm Floyded-out. What happened with the riots/protests and now this pathetic occupation is the result of weak and craven politicians and their support dogs(the media). They all wanted a part of the event. Show their bone fides as progressive, caring pols. It backfired. They lost control of the city. But never fear, there will be a massive correction in the next city election.
SMS (Dallas TX)
@marrtyy I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks
14thStResident (New York City)
What does "Floyded-out" mean? That you've lost interest in the crisis of black Americans being murdered by the police? Asking a genuine question.
znlgznlg (New York)
I want the police to remain fully supported. If you think Black Lives Matter, then the best thing that ever happened was the increase to the police force provided by Mayor David Dinkins (who was Black, in case you are too young to have perspective) and the proactive Broken WIndows, Compstat and Stop Question Frisk procedures under Giuliani and Bloomberg. Our policing saved untold thousands of black lives. They performed a miracle in what had been a crime-ridden, dangerous City. You want policing stopped? Shame on you.
Dirk (ny)
@znlgznlg Stop and Frisk was unconstitutional state terrorism against Black and brown boys. These policies were failures and crime went down when they were put to an end.
Patrick (NYC)
I wish there were more photos. The main one is in back of, not in front of City Hall contrary to the caption. It is in front of the Municipal Building though. The only other thing I can tell is that yoga pants seem to be a particularly good fashion option for painting slogans on pavements. No loose fabric to accidentally make wet roller contact.
Patrick (NYC)
@Patrick Actually, I was curious to see if the protesters were occupying the plaza directly in front of City Hall which used to be an open street before Giuliani fenced it off in order to make City Hall look more like the White House. NYPD manned security booths with magnetometers were later added after someone snuck a gun into the Council Chamber and killed a Brooklyn Councilman James Davis. Maybe the mayor and politicians can start the NYPD defunding process by removing the security booths and restoring that plaza to a public street. Then there is Mayor DeBlasio’s multi-officer security detail, the police bodyguard detail to chauffeur Dante DeBlasio 75 miles to Yale, etc, etc... Defund now!
stephen beck (nyc)
My conservative sister in Texas, who gets her information from FoxNews, believes that much of that state's huge increase in coronavirus cases comes from BLM protesters. It's images like this article's photos that rightwing media weaponizes into pro-Trump messaging. Let's be clear: NOT wearing masks helps Trump.
Paul Blart (Mall Cop)
Three things strike me about these protests: 1) No one seems to be talking about what good the police do. It's all very one-sided about how the police are all bad and need to be defunded/reformed. 2) No one seems to be putting the number of police killings in context with other hazards of modern life. Everyone has defaulted to the idea that police killings are a widespread problem when in fact they are somewhat rare. This isn't to say that police abuse of minorities isn't a real thing and shouldn't be addressed but police killings by themselves are not of the same magnitude as deaths from car accidents or COVID-19. This seems like a classic case of cognitive bias of viewing an extreme event as happening more frequently than it actual does. 3) The protesters are making demands but none of them seem to want to join police forces to change them from within. I think just making demands is not an effective approach because changing an entire culture and what racism may be in officers' hearts will probably take a generation of constant attention and effort from peers. No one wants to change if someone they don't know comes up to them and starts yelling at them, telling them how awful they are. A rapport must between protesters and police must be established for any meaningful change to occur. I don't believe that all police officers are inherently bad and racist and I think we need to work together with departments directly to get the change that we want.
Becka W (Connecticut)
@Paul Blart You make valid points however it is not about how many lives are taken by the police, it's about how they are taken. It's about the gross difference of percentage between how many black and brown people are harassed and brutalized by police during routine stops not even for violent offenses. also you mentioned that more black and brown people should apply for police force positions I recently was at work and speaking to a young black man who had tried to apply to be a state trooper. During his application process and his interview he was advised that if he had notions of changing the world he was picking the wrong profession. He was advised that he was coming in as a rookie and he would do as he was told and there would be no funny business tolerated. It was very obviously a direct statement about how they didn't want a black lives matter police officer. Would they have given that same speech to a white man applying for the same position? If they're being discouraged from applying for the positions by the white superiors, and basically told that they won't be allowed to be good cops, Where's the incentive to sign up?
MaxStar212 (Murray Hill, New York City)
I would imagine the vast majority are from far outside of Manhattan. Kids in their 20's can no longer afford to live here. I have to work 60 hours a week to be able to afford a one bedroom. I wish they would protest in their community, rather than taxing our resources and harassing the good law enforcement officers we pay for our protection. I don't think it will be easy to get them to leave. They pay no rent and they live in Manhattan. How can you get them back on the farm once they've seen Manhattan?
MK (New York, New York)
"I bet all these people don't even live in Tahrir square but here they are. Will they ever go back home now that they've seen the square?"
conscious (uk)
@MK What happened after Obama's Cairo speech of Arab spring; it soon became a nightmare when el Sisi orchestrated the coup with the help of his friends from democratic countries in the west. And how Morsi was treated and assassinated...hypocritical to the core!
Robert Mescolotto (Merrick NY)
When the inevitable occurs; a death under questionable circumstances when police are involved, occurring anywhere from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon... might we expect cops nationwide to suffer consequences?
Greg (Las Vegas)
@Robert Mescolotto Yes, cheered on by the Times and enforced by a small minority of the population that the powers that be won't reign in.
Hunter Canards (Los Angeles)
In the 70’s - 80’s I investigated wrongful deaths and police mendacity/perjury as a private investigator working for boutique trial lawyer firms. It was a busy time. I am white, middle class, well-educated. My family and friends did not understand. They believed in law enforcement. I wanted to; I had hope, but I saw the truth - bored, macho, angry cops eager to make their bones, get promotions on based on the corpses, battered victims and the falsely accused and convicted. I was raised to respect them, but that fiction gave way to reality. I learned the hard way - some cops lie, cheat, steal, unnecessarily injure and kill people, then lie about it. Victims were just not people of color. I am jaded. Could never be impartial as a juror. Now you know the truth. The Golden State Serial Killer and Rapist was a cop. As a society we need to emasculate police unions, open police HR files, end NDAs and qualified immunity. Then we need to honor a reward our many good cops and make them role models. We need to empower conviction review teams in DA’s offices and support the Innocence Project, and end jailhouse snitch programs everywhere.
conscious (uk)
History is always controversial/contested and it's good to reflect on both sides of the spectrum with the lens of objectivity rather than judging it with the color/tone of our own skin. I personally think America needs a dialectical discourse to heal the wounds of past; post apartheid South africa did it with truth and reconciliation commission but they've the privilege of having Nelson Mandela's political acumen and strategic vision for future. America has altogether different history and distinct geography; it lost some of its best leaders both black and white from 1963 to1968 in a callous/tragic way. America is facing a crisis of life time from racial inequality to police reforms, melting down of economy, staggering unemployment, climate change, health care, deadly pandemics, abrasive/naked capitalism, protests/riots after George Floyd/Brooks gruesome deaths. EU has lukewarm relations with America and relations with China are getting sour, Russians are blamed for funding Taleban, tensions in South China sea/North korea. Israel has a foreign policy shift towards America and has asked America not to interfere in it's west bank/east jerusalem annexation. They have criticised America for spreading covid in Israel due to flight operations and asked Jared/Trump to treat Israel as a sovereign country; this could send shock waves in DC. To be precise America is being diluted in global realpolitik and it shouldn't be like burning of Rome metaphor!
John (Biggs)
Protesters. Just make sure you keep healthy. Zucotti Park got broken up by claims that disease was spreading in the campsites.
B. (Brooklyn)
To be expected, John, when crowds of people use where they're squatting as a toilet. Perhaps these kids should leave City Hall and instead fan out to patrol the gardens, stairwells, and corridors of all the city's housing projects, and keep elderly women from getting mugged. Or leap between a stray bullet and a kid. Without guns. But they should bring mops so that they could clean up the urine that young men leave behind them after a night out in the vestibules. And brooms so that the beer bottles and cigarette packs tossed by the local talent won't get too deep. Go ahead. Make your city better.
Edward (Miami)
Demonizing the police is counterproductive and obscenely ignorant. Crime is already on the rise in areas without police. It will become significantly worse. New York City is deteriorating in many ways as the blind chorus cheers. Calling a social worker when one's life is in jeopardy is not a solution.
SMS (Dallas TX)
@Edward Since the current spineless politicians are afraid to stand up to these insurrections, we voters need to elect law and order officials who enforce our laws. This has gone far enough.
SMS (Dallas TX)
@Edward Since the current spineless politicians are afraid to stand up to these insurrections, we voters need to elect law and order officials who enforce our laws. This has gone far enough.
TobyFinn (The Flatiron)
These Protests and Occupations are rudderless Sloganeering. Defund the Police, ask the folks in the Communities with high Crime rates what they think of the disbanding the Anti Crime units. Do you really believe that Social Workers will be more successful and defusing confrontational. The Homeless Outreach,Children Services and THRIVE NYC programs don’t give me much confidence. The Black Lives Matter needs to stop shutting and focus on a Plan that addresses the concerns of their communities.
Jay Orchard (Miami Beach)
This encampment of protestors has only one real purpose: to attract media attention. If the media would not come, they would not build it. All it really accomplishes is create an environment for the spread of coronavirus, since as you point out "during peak hours, it’s impossible for protesters to socially distance." In fact, these protests are becoming more and more like coronavirus - something that at this point we've had quite enough of.
David (Westfield NJ)
"Some supporters of the movement to defund the police have expressed discomfort over the number of young, white people who are taking part in the gathering"--aren't these same people who regularly attack white people for not taking part in their "movement"? Should such movements be segregated by race? Would gay marriage have ever gained legality without the support of straight people?
David Godinez (Kansas City, MO)
You could copy and paste these articles about occupation protests, they're all so similar. The mainstream press bends over backwards to emphasize the wonderfulness of them all, with their community gardens, libraries and such. I remember similar stories during the 'occupy' protests in all the papers, and the CHOP zone in Seattle received the same coverage, at least until the shootings started. There is a definite danger to allowing these gatherings to become entrenched, however, and I would hope that the NYC authorities are considering their options before allowing this one to become intractable. Despite the cloying account in this article about the 6 year old at the protest, I would also advise parents to never bring a minor child to such an event. Any social protest like this, no matter how innocuous it seems, can turn ugly in a heartbeat, as we saw in Louisville over the weekend. They are not a place for children.
Eye Roller (The Couch)
I don't see why this is about money. We absolutely need police reform. I would go as far as to say that we need policing to be redefined. But how does reducing the NYPD budget by 1/6 accomplish that?
DM (San Fransisco)
There’s zero justification for police to be involved in a number of areas and clear justification to slash NYPD’s budget. Get cops out of schools - they ain’t teachers. Get cops out of situations involving domestic abuse and mental illness - they ain’t therapists or counselors. Slash the police budget for purchasing military-grade weapons - they ain’t needed on the streets. Boom. Money saved and redistributed. And who cares what the police unions have to say? They all live on Long Island and shouldn’t have a voice in what goes on in NYC.
Henry (NY)
@DM "Get cops out of situations involving domestic abuse and mental illness - they ain’t therapists or counselors. Slash the police budget for purchasing military-grade weapons - they ain’t needed on the streets. Boom"... Get Real DM ... What would happen if someone were to come into a School with an assault rifle ??? What would happen if the person with mental illness were to have a Gun ?? What were to happen if someone on the 'street ' were to have a Gun ?? ... as you said .... "BOOM"
Sam (NY)
@DM Do not make NYC as bad as San Fransisco.
Jp (Michigan)
@DM :" And who cares what the police unions have to say? They all live on Long Island and shouldn’t have a voice in what goes on in NYC." Queens and Brooklyn aren't part of NYC?
father lowell laurence (nyc)
We must fight virulence with art, with words & with compassion. The roots of the malaise must be researched, analyzed, decoded then transmogrified into something creatively innovative. Multidimensional, poetic reasoning must conjure some semblance of solutions. Complex issues necessitate complex consciousness. Dr. Larry Myers - 40 years a university professor- directs The Playwrights Sanctuary (endorsed by the late Playwright Edward Albee). The group helps newer & younger dramatists & poets write out their angst. Myers' latet play is "the Removal of Statues."
Keef In cucamonga (Claremont CA)
Here comes the future, and not a second too soon. There are some who will not like it; there are others, like me, who have been waiting for it a long time. There’s something in the air: change. Police departments are under scrutiny that they aren’t used to; the police should get very used to it, and if they cannot they should retire or quit, try something new. But it won’t stop there. We need to apply this level of scrutiny and criticism to every level of our government and public life, hold these liars accountable for once. And believe me, if Trump thinks he and “his judges” can steal an election and strong arm Americans into accepting dictatorship he’s even loonier than he looks: to imagine what happens next in that scenario, multiply Lafayette Square by a thousand. Add Americans of every age, race, and gender. Trump doesn’t have enough ominous weapons. In fact he’s naked as a jay bird.
Jonny (Bronx)
@Keef In cucamonga And in completely unrelated news, gun shootings for the month of June in NYC is at levels not seen in 24 years. Police responding to a shoot out last night in the Bronx pelted by rocks. Though I am voting for Biden , these anarchists are as scary as Trump.
Keef In cucamonga (Claremont CA)
Wow sounds like the NYPD are terrible at their job and maybe should spend less time and money on public relations! They should spend more time on effective policing, you know the kind that communities actually want and would welcome? Instead of the stuff that has the entire country protesting? All the more reason to reorganize the force from ground up.
Jonny (Bronx)
@Keef In cucamonga Dearest Keef, Crime was down- until the Mayor changed the rules of engagement to zero. The ones suffering most are the people in minority communities, who utilize police services more than wealthy communities. Most importantly, NYPD is a majority-minority force. It represents the people of NYC. It was reorganized well before any PD in the USA. P.S- Get a hold of Covid in your state.
Eddy (Elmhurst, Queens)
We desperately need STOP & FRISK.
doy1 (nyc)
@Eddy, stop & frisk never accomplished anything - except harass and terrorize communities of color and ruin the lives and futures of thousands of young black and brown men for minor infractions - or none at all. Crime actually went down after de Blasio ended stop & frisk. This article is about a protest - something that's protected under the First Amendment.
Ron (New City, NY)
What can POSSIBLY go wrong?
Charles (NY)
With all the problems facing NYC(Housing,education,transit,health care,)etc. The police budget could be cut in half and still provide the services the city needs.
New Yorker (NYC)
Nonstop media and social media amplification helps provide legitimacy to the whims of a couple hundred occupiers. What are the demands? Anti-consumerism, inclusivity and camaraderie I guess. Most of us wouldn't disagree. About 2,000,000 people show up to watch the annual Greenwich Village Halloween parade to help keep things in perspective.
Greg (Las Vegas)
@New Yorker Spot on. This is tyranny of the minority. These groups have no right to do the things they're doing.
Isabel (NYC)
@Greg Ah, tyranny of the minority. Are you feeling very oppressed by these folks' resistance to historic oppression?
Nat (NYC)
@Greg They have every right, and that’s why I still love America. But they won’t be effective - we can agree on that.
Brad (Chester, NJ)
This area has to be a breeding crowd for Covid. In some of the photos, I see some people wearing masks incorrectly or not at all. I understand and appreciate what the occupiers are trying to do but that has to (or should be) balanced against the public health risk.
j24 (CT)
For every action there is equal and opposite reaction. The current administration imploded for not understanding Newton's law. Almost four years of corruption, environmental destruction and judicial abuse has soured and alienated all but the most viral members of Trump’s base. Our new awareness needs to find balance and mature direction as it moves forward, or perhaps suffer the same fate. Intelligent reasonable people are onboard. Progress is at hand. There is a danger to embracing just another populism. For better or worse the virus upon us has left us all with a pause, a time to be more contemplative and understanding. We need to look inward as well as outward and work to change all aspects of our communities while the time is ripe for change.
Sam (NY)
@j24 Do you realize that the matter in focus is a NYC local police budget issue rather than federal!!! And Democrats is in charge for how many years here ????
RonRich (Chicago)
Over the past two week-ends 140 black people were shot in Chicago. At least 16 people, including a 1-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, were killed this weekend, according to police. None were shot by the police. There have been no protests. There have been no marches. There have been no demands.
Andrew (Manhattan)
@RonRich There's a huge difference between being shot by a criminal and being shot by a government agent whose sole job is to protect the public. If these police who have been given almost unlimited power have been completely unable to prevent these shootings, why are we wasting so much money on them?
Nicholas (Orono)
@RonRich You offer a fair point Ron, Chicago police can’t seem to perform their jobs. Their budget should be cut, too.
Keef In cucamonga (Claremont CA)
Let me guess: “‘they’ say the n-word all the time if they want me to not say it they have to stop too!” “If it’s ok to say Black Lives Matter then why can’t I scream White Power at black teenagers?” Et cetera et cetera ad nauseam.
Lauren (Maryland)
The police harass everyone. I have no idea what these people are thinking but the crime statistics in every low income housing project in America are already beyond unacceptable. If these people believe that removing the policing from our streets with result in anything but anarchy they have to open their minds and get the propaganda out of their heads.
David F. (Brooklyn)
@Lauren This battle is not really about removing the police... It’s about re-shaping the police. You don’t need to worry about “anarchy”. You only need to worry if you are resistant to racial equality.
MK (New York, New York)
@Andrew So what? Of course the vast majority of people in projects are not criminals. But you only need 1 percent who are to have a really high crime rate, which these places do. The people who are criminals now are still going to be criminals when police budgets are cut, so what exactly is the plan here?
B. (Brooklyn)
You are right, Andrew. Which is precisely why bail reform, the release of criminals from jail in January, the "defunding the police" protests, and the legitimizing quality-of-life crimes for over a year have already had such a sorry effect on our city.
Dave (Cornwall, NY)
Any time I see someone reporting on the positive, impassioned protests happening around the country, I'm heartened. Many white friends dismiss the #blacklivesmatter movement because they saw flashes of violence on the news. That's not the norm.
Angelica (Jersey City)
The protesters are right that this is a failure of City government. The murderer rate is increasing. Blacks and everyone else in the city is less safe that they were a few years ago.
Dirk (ny)
@Angelica You do not live in the city. The murder rate is 10x lower than it was two decades ago and lower per capita than in the state of Alabama. In a city of 8 million, we have at most 300 murders a year. It's a miracle, crime is plummeting not in spite of, but because we ended stop and frisk and Broken Windows policing. To claim otherwise is a lie.
The Midwest Contrarian (Lawrence, KS)
Defund no. Reimagine yes. We need to reexamine what we expect from our police. What should their responsibilities be? What conduct can we decriminalize? If we decriminalize, what does that mean - no longer a prohibited conduct or civil enforcement. What alternatives do we currently have in place or need to if we are to shift any responsibilities? Will the alternatives be fully funded? Will the police be fully funded to meet their responsibilities whatever they turn out to be? The events of the past several weeks clearly demonstrate that we also need to reimagine our police departments. Importantly, we need to look at the challenges facing police departments today from a systems perspective. The vast majority of police come to work wanting to do a good job. However, their conduct will only change if the system and culture that they are placed in change. Police conduct will change only when the incentives change. We already know what works – accountability and transparency, community policing, training programs such as racial bias, critical incident and de-escalation, co-responding with mental health professionals, same day command reviews whenever force is used, data tracking and analysis and a myriad of other best practices. I am not an expert on police departments and best practices but am convinced that it is a question of “will” and not one of “can’t”.
mt (Portland OR)
@The Midwest Contrarian Excellent suggestions. Thank you for putting flesh behind the bones of the imperfectly worded slogan “defund the police”.
Misty (RI)
I'm glad people are taking action against the horrendous ways the police are killing people and the outsized police budgets. However I do find the lack of social distancing concerning due to the pandemic. Hopefully being outside will help lessen the spread of the disease for the protesters.
J (Poughkeepsie)
Not much social distancing and not everyone has a mask. Looks like a public health disaster in the making.
SR (New York)
I hope that they will get some response if someone is in trouble and calls 911. But then again, they can create autonomous zones that are police free. It is reportedly working well in Seattle so that they already have a head start.
Diane Veltkamp (Gilroy CA)
Working well? There was another shooting this morning and another fatality. The residents and businesses in the area are suing the City for damages. And armed ‘guards’ have kept out City crews and police on several occasions even though CHOP has absolutely no property ownership. I’d hardly say it’s working!!!!
SR (New York)
@Diane Veltkamp Seems that you do not understand sarcasm and irony.
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