In an effort to curb the violence that has followed protests in some parts of the city over last week's police-related killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have jointly ordered a citywide curfew beginning at 11 p.m., and continuing until 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
"I stand behind the protestors and their message, but unfortunately, there are people who are looking to distract and discredit this moment," Cuomo said, in a release. "The violence and the looting has been bad for the city, the state, and this entire national movement, undermining and distracting from this righteous cause. While we encourage people to protest peacefully and make their voices heard, the safety of the general public is paramount and cannot be compromised."
Exempted from the curfew police officers, peace officers, firefighters, first responders and emergency medical technicians, individuals traveling to and from essential work and performing essential work, people experiencing homelessness and without access to a viable shelter, and those seeking medical treatment or medical supplies.
Protests had erupted in a number of cities across the country, many bringing violence in their wake, especially in Minneapolis, where security guard George Floyd died while being restrained by police on a street. The primary officer involved in that arrest, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All four officers involved in the arrest were fired soon after a video of the arrest surfaced publicly, and prosecutors say charges could be pending against the other officers, who did not appear to intervene in Chauvin's arrest.
Prosecutors say Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck, while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground, and didn't release that pressure, even when Floyd yelled that he couldn't breathe.
Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using counterfeit currency in a store.
Although most of the violent aspects of the protests have been centered primarily in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, the decision was made to blanket the city with the curfew. The New York Police Department will double its presence in areas where there was violence and property damage Sunday night in an effort to preventing more of the same on Monday.
Not all elected officials support the curfew. City public advocate Jumaane Williams says it's the governor and mayor wielding too heavy of a hand.
"While I understand the potential benefits of a curfew, this is neither the right moment nor the right process for imposing one and addint an additional 4,000 officers to our streets," Williams said, in a release. "At this moment and in this way, it could escalate tension, not alleviate them. Our executives refused to shut the city down to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately devastated black and brown communities, but when those same communities try to protest injustices, they decide to lock down the streets and double NYPD presence."
de Blasio said some NYPD officers were not above-board during the protests and violence either, and that those actions will be investigated and those officers "will be held accountable." Some video from earlier nights showed some officers using pepper spray on some members in the crowd, although it appeared such action might not have been warranted, and another video that appeared to show a marked police vehicle ramming a small crowd that had been blocking a street.
"I support and protect peaceful protest in the city," de Blasio said. "The demonstrations we've seen have been generally peaceful. We can't let violence undermine the message of this moment. It is too important, and the message must be heard."