A large protest in Brooklyn on Saturday sent a shock through social media when video emerged of two New York Police Department vehicles driving through a group of protesters. The protest was one of dozens nationwide over the death of George Floyd.
The videos show dozens of protesters gathered in a street holding up a small barricade, appearing to stop an NYPD SUV from continuing to drive. A bag is seen to be thrown on the car as protesters throw objects at the vehicle. Seconds later, a second NYPD vehicle approaches, and drives through part of the crowd, directly hitting at least half a dozen people. As it drove through, the initial vehicle hit the gas and rammed through the people who were standing in front of it, causing several people to collapse on the ground.
A law enforcement source told CBS News that the vehicles in the video were “trapped” and that the crowd was throwing bricks and rocks, and that there was a bag on fire sitting on top of one of the vehicles. The source said the officers did not “ram” the protesters, but that they were “trying to go forward and escape.”
At a late-night news conference, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the video, saying that although it was “upsetting,” it’s also “inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers.”
“That’s wrong on its face,” de Blasio said. “I’m not going to blame officers who are trying to deal with absolutely impossible situation … If a police officer is in that situation, they have to get out of that situation. The video was upsetting, and I wish the officers hadn’t done that, but I also understood that they didn’t start the situation.”
No further information was provided when asked about the second vehicle that approached the crowd and clearly drove through a group of people. The bag thrown on top of the vehicle in the video does not appear to be on fire.
Following the release of the video, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on de Blasio to bring the officers involved to justice, and not dismiss the case with “internal reviews.”
“NYPD officers just drove an SUV into a crowd of human beings. They could’ve killed them, & we don’t know how many they injured. NO ONE gets to slam an SUV through a crowd of human beings,” she wrote on Twitter. “We need rapid, real de-escalation and we need it right now. We cannot descend into the chaos of violence. Please everyone, stay safe.”
On Friday night, video shared on Twitter showed an officer shoving a woman so hard, she forcefully hit the curb a few feet away. The woman in the video later shared on Twitter that she was wearing a face mask when the incident occurred, and did not spit in the officer’s face as people had assumed in the comments.
In another video, viewers can see the same officer starting to push her when she asked why she needs to get out of the way as he approached her.
“He told me to get out of the street and then immediately threw me out of the way,” she said.
She also shared videos of her addressing the situation from an apparent hospital bed, and said “in no way was I aggressive toward this police officer. I did not even get in his physical space.”