BROOKLYN — The downtown area of this New York City borough looked like it was under martial law as Saturday night turned into Sunday morning.
Dozens of police vehicles screamed to a halt in front of a McDonald’s near the DeKalb subway stop, as what appeared to be at least a hundred officers with plastic shields pushed back on crowds shouting “George Floyd,” and “Eric Garner,” two African Americans killed by police. “Go home!” officers shouted back, waving batons.
A pile of trash burned on the asphalt. Cars honked their horns. Sirens blazed. Fire trucks rushed to the scene. Multiple times, police pushback caused a stampede — sometimes prompted by glass bottles thrown at officers from the crowd, sometimes seemingly prompted by nothing at all.
One woman who said she was a medic rushed forward to help a man bleeding from his forehead. Seconds later, she ran the opposite direction, clutching her eyes, saying she’d been pepper sprayed and asking for someone, anyone to grab saline solution from her bag.
“At nighttime they get real dirty. They want you to go home and they become very, very aggressive,” said protester Derek Rutledge, 53, an unemployed accountant born and raised in downtown Brooklyn.
He’d arrived by bicycle for a way to escape if things got hairy and said this was his second night protesting. “There are good cops and there’s a whole bunch of dirty cops. If I was a cop and I saw somebody killing somebody for $20, I’d say, ‘Dude, get off of him!’ There’s no need.”
On Sunday morning, the police said that they’d made more than 300 arrests during the overnight protests in New York. At least 30 officers were injured and nearly 50 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed.
“I’m extremely proud of the way you’ve comported yourselves in the face of such persistent danger, disrespect, and denigration,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote to the NYPD force on Twitter. Shea noted that the spams of violence in the city…