New Yorkers continued to protest over the death of George Floyd as hundreds of people took to the street in Manhattan on Friday to express their anger toward police brutality and racism.
More than 200 people were seen marching toward Foley Square in Lower Manhattan on Friday afternoon in a generally peaceful manner, though several arrests were made throughout the demonstration.
Most of the protesters were wearing face masks as required by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic. They waved posters and chanted slogans including Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, repeatedly pleaded with a white officer with these words as the latter held him to the ground with a knee to his neck for around 8 minutes on Monday evening in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd lost consciousness and died in custody later.
Though large gatherings are still banned in New York City due to the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that demonstrations are allowed for this purpose, but urged protesters to respect the police.
“Anyone who wants to protest, we’re going to protect your right to protest. But please also respect that the cop in front of you did not create this problem. And we have to fix this problem on a much more fundamental level,” said the mayor in a program on radio channel WNYC.
The mayor said earlier on Friday at his daily briefing that his “heart broke” while watching the video of Floyd’s deadly encounter with the officer.
“It was … I could not believe the officer’s lack of concern, and it was horrifying, and it just can’t go on this way,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon, around 100 New Yorkers held the city’s first protest over the Floyd’s death. Some 70 arrests were made after some clashes between protesters and the police.
Floyd’s death easily reminds New Yorkers of Eric Garner, a black man in New York‘s Staten Island who died from an apparent chokehold by a white police officer in 2014. Garner also repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” before his death, and the tragedy galvanized the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said at Friday’s briefing that he stands with protesters.
“Enough is enough. How many times do you have to see the same lesson replayed before you do something? This country is better than this. It has been better than this and it shouldn’t take this long to end basic discrimination and basic injustice,” Cuomo said.
He noted that this is not an isolated incident, but “a continuum of cases and situations that have been going on for decades, and decades, and decades.”
“These are just chapters in a book. And the title of the book is continuing injustice and inequality in America,” said the governor.