Over 100 people were arrested during protests for Freddie Gray in Manhattan on Wednesday evening. Demonstrators assembled in Union Square and held signs that read “Blue Lies Matter” and “Broken Windows Severs Spines,” among other placards showing solidarity with Baltimore and Gray, an unarmed black man who died after being injured while in police custody. As people gathered and chanted for justice, the NYPD made announcements over its LRAD sound weapon/speaker warning protesters that they will be arrested if they walk in the street. Soon after those announcements, the march commenced. It headed west on 17th Street. Less than a half block from the starting point, the arrests began.
Jube Charles, who was among the first people arrested, said he was being taken in for criticizing a black officer. “I was arrested because I told a black cop to peel his skin off. I was standing in the crowd and he pointed me out and they came for me. I was arrested for speaking for mind. ”
While it appeared that cops were cuffing anyone trying to block vehicular traffic, others were randomly plucked from the crowd. The Daily News published a video that shows a police captain telling his subordinate, “Get in there and pick somebody out. Not the press.” It soon became obvious that the NYPD was operating under aggressive new guidelines for this march, clearly deploying new tactics from previous protests. They were more aggressive, they were taunting protesters, and this time there were no first warnings before arrests.
Although this zero tolerance policy successfully splintered the demonstrations from the outset, groups of protesters began fanning out all across Manhattan. ANIMAL caught up with a large group on Canal Street and Broadway. They defiantly walked down the middle of the street, blocking westbound traffic. Rapper Joey Badass could be seen towards the front of the march, holding a sign that read, “I am Freddie Gray.”
After briefly shutting down the Holland Tunnel and the West Side Highway, the NYPD once again moved in and made more arrests. Protesters were told once again to move to the sidewalk or face arrests. Most of them complied. They headed north for a few blocks and then headed east on West Houston Street.
Then things got outright bizarre. Although they were marching on the sidewalk, the NYPD formed a line and refused to let anyone pass. The group did an about face and eventually made its way to the intersection of West Houston and Sixth Avenue. Protesters took to the streets and blocked traffic. Minutes later, the cops started making more arrests. One officer in a white shirt, pummeled a protester who was told to the get to the sidewalk, but apparently wasn’t moving fast enough. Several cops swarmed her and kneeled on her back to make the arrest while the crowd chanted, “Shame, shame, shame.” Her face was bloodied.
Demonstrators eventually made their way to Times Square where even more arrests took place and mobile protests continued throughout the night.
(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork | Video: Bucky Turco/ANIMALNewYork)