I was running late to the Grand Army Plaza protest that started in the afternoon with speeches about reforming the New York Police Department (NYPD). I ended up arriving right around curfew which was pushed up to 8:00 p.m. in New York City.
As I was running down Rogers St. to catch up with the group of DSA members I was coordinating with, I stopped at an intersection where no less than 20 cops and five police vans surrounded three police officers dragging a man across the street while in handcuffs. After he was shoved into one of the vans and driven away, the remaining police officers began to intimidate and yell at the other people recording the incident. I decided to keep running to catch up with the group.
It was so settling being able to see the familiar faces of my comrades in the midst of pandemonium — a crowd of thousands chanting, onlookers banging pots and pans, a couple of helicopters, police sirens. As we walked through Brooklyn, it didn’t matter if the neighborhood was mostly upper-middle-class white people or working-class Black people, seemingly everyone came from inside their apartments and off their porches to join the fight.
After a brief stop with the police closing in on both the front and the back of the protest, when it seemed like things might get ugly, the organizers directed us to march on. And with chants of “fuck your curfew” ringing throughout the neighborhood, it was clear we weren’t going home anytime soon.
As the protest wore on, our numbers started to thin, making it harder and harder to distinguish the front of the crowd from the back. With our group of 15 or so DSA members seemingly being the biggest organized bloc of people there, we decided we would continue to march. Strength in numbers.
As we kept on moving through the streets of Brooklyn, the support from surrounding apartment buildings and storefronts never waned. If we are measuring from cheers and signs of solidarity from all of the protests I have participated in so far, it’s clear that the overwhelming majority of people support the fight for a city free of police brutality and all forms of oppression.
Once we thinned out to maybe 100 people and the threat of police violence felt more imminent, the organizers directed everyone to leave in groups of eight or more if possible to be safe.
Overall, it was another extremely strong showing of New Yorkers coming together, standing in solidarity, and fighting back against the constant police violence that terrorizes so many neighborhoods. We remained peaceful and kept tight because at the end of the day, we know that we are held to higher standards than NYPD, and one misstep can result in more police violence.