Sunday, May 31, 2020

Downtown Protest for Black Lives Matter

Yesterday, I marched with the Black Lives Matter rally and protest that kicked off from Union Square and traveled to the West Side Highway and through the Village. I broke off there, but they continued their march, until night fell and they settled back at Union Square.

In the dark, the protest turned into a rebellion, some call it a riot, as protesters smashed and set fire to police vehicles and broke the windows of nearby bank chains.

I went back out around 10:30 p.m when the streets of the East Village were silent, except for the sound of police helicopters overhead.

Second Avenue was covered in trash and burned mattresses left on the sidewalk by the people who've moved out after coronavirus. Protesters had smashed windows and Link surveillance kiosks, leaving the streets littered with broken glass and the charred remains of mattresses.

On Broadway, between 8th and 12th Streets, the protesters were quiet behind a police barricade. Some lit fires in trash cans strewn into the street.

Then a shift came and a stampede of protesters ran downtown, dancing and singing, in jubilation. They smashed the windows of the Wells Fargo bank in three loud whoomps and then continued down into SoHo, where they would spend the night smashing banks and looting major chain stores, including Adidas, North Face, and Urban Outfitters.

Walking uptown, another sudden shift came near 9th Street and I was caught in a group running in panic from the police. I pivoted and twisted my ankle as a bicycle cop tackled a young woman, pushing us both into the iron fence at Grace Church, where I managed to get away.

This morning, the damage up and down Second Avenue in the East Village and Broadway into SoHo is considerable. While the group hit a few small businesses, they mostly targeted banks--I counted 11 smashed and/or covered in graffiti--and large corporate chain stores.

The targets seem consistent with the overall messaging of the protesters.

The Adidas store, looted:

Clothing hangers litter Houston Street:

In the Journeys store, among the broken glass, a message left behind:

Swatch store, looted -- emptied out:

Starbucks smashed:

Bank of America smashed:

In the middle of Broadway, in front of Bloomingdale's, a mini police car sits charred and turned on its side:

At least 5 polices vehicles were left smashed and/or charred by fire. Most can be found parked on University Place just below Union Square:

Messages were spray-painted onto Broadway in Union Square and onto the Citibank:

Including one for Governor Cuomo:

Most of the graffiti around town was anti-cop, anti-capitalism, and in memory of George Floyd:

This one says, "We'll change the world with flowers or we'll change the world with guns":


  1. I've read your book - and like you I feel like I am more attracted to the pre-Giuliani city. Even though I was just a kid at the time, I loved the chaos of visiting family in Manhattan in the 80's. The city I moved to after 9/11 gradually has gradually gotten a little less interesting and dynamic it seems. I'm not romanticizing crime; I'm glad it's virtually nonexistent compared to when I was a kid. But it shouldn't feel like Scarsdale either. The police, if anything though were even more unhinged then. This is small peanuts obviously and I'm white but I have had the pleasure of getting my ass kicked by the NYPD and sent to the joint after I drunkenly told them my opinions on the Sean Bell shooting. I like that people are finally doing something about the police violence and I do wonder what took so long. What's your take on this?


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