U.S. News

'We're built up with frustration': Scenes and sounds in NYC during 3 days of protest against police brutality

Black Lives Matter protestors march across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

New York City has been gripped by days of social unrest in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Large demonstrations have rolled across the city as outraged protesters shout, chant and plead for action to end police brutality against African Americans.  

Tensions were already running high in New York. The coronavirus pandemic started tearing through through the city in March, leaving at least 17,000 people dead. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers lost their jobs because of a quarantine and lockdown that continues to keep all but the most essential businesses shuttered.  

Police and protesters in New York clashed in the wake of Floyd's killing, reigniting long-simmering anger over Eric Garner's 2014 death at the hands of the NYPD. Floyd and Garner, black men who were unarmed, were pinned to the ground by police while crying out, "I can't breathe."

During the NYC protests, looters ransacked stores in several Manhattan neighborhoods, and the city has imposed a curfew for the first time since the Second World War in response. Police say they've arrested about 2,500 people since the end of May. Two NYPD officers have been suspended for attacking protesters. 

The following photos and videos are snapshots of the city over the course of three days this week, arranged in the order that they were taken. 

Unrest near Union Square Monday

Businesses worked to board up their windows Monday evening in anticipation of riots and looting overnight, after a weekend of social unrest not just in New York, but across the nation. 

Workers board up a Wells Fargo bank branch in New York City in anticipation of looting and riots, June 1, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

Protests near Union Square in Midtown on Monday evening were peaceful. Demonstrators chanted "hands up, don't shoot" which became a rallying cry after police shot dead Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, nearly six years ago. A grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Brown. The Justice Department under President Barack Obama declined to bring charges. 

Later Monday night, however, looting hit Midtown. Looters broke into this Zumiez store near Union Square and ransacked it. 

Looters break into a Zumiez store near New York City's Union Square, June 1, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In this video, looters take what they want and run off. There were no police on the scene to stop them. 

Looters also tried to hit a smoke shop down Broadway, but police arrived on the scene and chased them away. 

Police guard a smoke shop near New York City's Union Square after looters tried to break in. June 1, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In the video below, a caravan of police cars pass the looted Zumiez store. The NYPD arrested nearly 700 people Monday, one of the worst nights of unrest. 

Further south on Wall Street, Black Lives Matter was written in graffiti on a statute of George Washington outside Federal Hall, where he was inaugurated as the nation's first president in 1789. Washington personally owned 123 enslaved black people and he kept 317 slaves at his plantation in Mount Vernon, Virginia. 

Black Lives Matter written on the statue of George Washington at Federal Hall in Manhattan, June 1, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

Tuesday rally at the Stonewall Inn

On Tuesday, a large demonstration of protesters gathered outside the West Village's Stonewall Inn to demonstrate in support of black transgender people. The Stonewall is a gay bar that was the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, the spark that triggered the modern LGBT rights movement in the U.S. 

A little girl holds a Black Lives Matter sign at a rally outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City's West Village, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A protestor with fist raised during a demonstration in support of black transgender people at the Stonewall Inn in New York City's West Village, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In this video below, the crowd can be heard chanting "Nina Pop," the name of a transgender black woman who was stabbed to death in Missouri on May 3.

Protesters left the Stonewall and began marching through West Village toward Union Square. In the video below, demonstrators chant, "How do you spell 'racist?' N-Y-P-D" as they pass a line of police officers. 

Black Lives Matter protestors march up 7th Avenue in New York City, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A police officer raises his fist as a demonstration of Black Lives Matter protestors passes in New York City's West Village, June 2, 2020
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In the photo below, a woman holds up a photo of Ahmaud Arbery as the demonstration passes. Arbery, 25, was shot dead by two white men who chased him down while he was jogging in a Georgia suburb. It took months for the suspects, a father and son, to be arrested and charged. 

A woman holds a picture of Ahmaud Arbery as demonstrators pass in New York City's West Village, June 2, 2020. Arbery was killed by two white men while jogging in a Georgia suburb.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In this video, police follow the demonstration as it moves down 14th Street toward Union Square, and a police helicopter can be heard hovering overhead. Workers board up a Foot Locker in preparation for possible looting later in the evening. 

A police helicopter flies above a crowd of Black Lives Matter protestors as they march down 14th St. toward New York City's Union Square. June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

The protesters turned around and stopped on Broadway and 13th Street near Union Square, where a tense encounter with the police ensued. 

Protesters kneel in front of police during a demonstration on Broadway near New York City's Union Square, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
Protestors and police face off with each other on Broadway near New York City's Union Square, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
Police and protestors face off on Broadway near New York City's Union Square, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In the video below, protesters chant, "How do you spell 'racist?' N-Y-P-D. How do you spell 'murder?' N-Y-P-D." They then chant, "No justice, no peace"

Police and protestors meet face to face during a tense encounter on Broadway near New York City's Union Square, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A police officer during a tense encounter with demonstrators on Broadway near New York City's Union Square, June 2, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

Tensions were running high between police and protesters, but the demonstration ended peacefully as many people left ahead of the 8 p.m. curfew imposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In the video below, a black man speaks with police about how the killing of George Floyd led to an explosion of outrage that had been building in New York City since Eric Garner's death in the summer of 2014. "We are built up with frustration — we are tight," the man tells police, who listen. 

Garner said "I can't breathe" 11 times as police pinned him down. A grand jury decided not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put his arm around Garner's neck and pulled him to the ground. President Donald Trump's Attorney General William Barr declined to bring charges against Pantaleo in a federal civil rights investigation.

Floyd said "I can't breathe" at least 16 times as police pinned him to the asphalt of a Minneapolis street. [Editor's note: The below video contains strong language.]

The man and a police officer embrace after discussing the killing of Floyd. Another officer then says the 8 p.m. curfew is going into effect. 

Police kept a heavy presence in the city Tuesday night to enforce the curfew. Cuomo and De Blasio imposed an earlier curfew at 8 p.m. after Monday night's 11 p.m. curfew failed to stop looting in Midtown. In the video below, Times Square is virtually deserted and looks like a fortress. 

The New York Times reported that several protesters were arrested for being out past the curfew. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Friday he will not prosecute demonstrators for marching peacefully after 8 p.m. 

Protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge Thursday

People gathered at the World Trade Center across from St. Paul's Chapel on Church Street to begin a peaceful march through Lower Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza Park where a rally was being held to honor the life of George Floyd. 

A Black Lives Matter activist speaks as a crowd gathers to begin a demonstration at the World Trade Center in Manhattan. June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

Police initially blocked the demonstration from crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Protesters gathered outside City Hall Park, where they held up protest signs and shouted at police who stood across the street blocking their way. 

A Black Lives Matter activist at a demonstration outside City Hall Park in New York City, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A Black Lives Matter activist yells into a megaphone outside City Hall Park in New York City as police block the demonstration from crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

Police eventually let the protesters pass and cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

Black Lives Matter protestors cross the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

The demonstration arrived at Cadman Plaza Park where Rev. Kevin McCall, a civil rights activist, was addressing a rally held in honor of George Floyd's life. Floyd's brother Terrence was present.

Rev. Kevin McCall, a civil rights leader, addresses a rally at the Brooklyn War Memorial, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In the video below, activist Kevin Livingston tells the crowd, "If you are here to support the family, walk in peace. We will not tolerate anybody destructing our community that we worked too hard to build." Livingston is the founder of 100 Suits for 100 Men, an organization that helps underserved men and women. 

Protesters then marched back across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. 

A man holds a small American flag as Black Lives Matter protestors march across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

In the photo below, people watch from apartment windows as the demonstration passes on the Brooklyn Bridge. Police are posted at the top of the apartment building. 

Police monitor protestors from an apartment building rooftop as they cross the Brooklyn Bridge, and people express their support for the demonstration from their apartment windows, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

The demonstration arrived at Foley Square in Manhattan. The American flag was flying half mast at the New York state Supreme Court building for those who died of coronavirus, which has disproportionately affected people of color. Nearly 23% of the people who have died from Covid-19 in the U.S. are African American, although black people make up about 13% of the overall population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The top of the Supreme Court building says, "The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government."

"The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government." New York Supreme Court Building, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

A Wi-Fi kiosk displays the name of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was shot dead in her Louisville, Kentucky, home by police during a "no knock" warrant search. Taylor was an emergency medical technician. She would have been 27 years old Friday. 

A LinkNYC wifi station displays the name of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman and EMT who was shot dead in her Louisville, Kentucky home by police. June, 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A memorial to Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police in her Louisville, Kentucky home. The memorial was held at Carl Schurz Park, June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

Vigil at Carl Schurz Park

At 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, 30 minutes of silence were observed at a vigil in Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side to remember black men and women killed by police. 

People observe 30 minutes of silence for black men and women killed by police. The vigil took place at Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan's Upper East Side. June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC

A memorial to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked nationwide protests. June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A memorial to Ahmaud Arbery, who was pursued by two white men and shot dead while jogging in a Georgia suburb. June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A memorial to Eric Garner, who said "I can't breathe" 11 times as police pinned him down during a stop in Staten Island. Photo taken at Carl Schurz Park vigil on June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A memorial to Sean Bell, who was shot dead by police on his wedding day. Photo taken at Carl Schurz Park vigil on June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC
A memorial to Amadou Diallo, who was shot dead by police in 1999. Photo taken at Carl Schurz Park vigil on June 4, 2020.
Spencer Kimball | CNBC