President Donald J. Trump had some words for New York City. Of course, he delivered them by normal means, a Tweet. He started with, “NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD.” Yes, in all caps. He then finished with a zinger, “The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast! Don’t make the same horrible and deadly mistake you made with the Nursing Homes!!!”
Admittingly, Trump has never has never been particularly gentle. And whether he should be is a whole different topic for another time. But his concern about New York, that is right on the money. Rioters and looters across the nation have taken it to cities big and small in the past few days, laying waste to just about anything in their paths. New York has been one of the hardest hit.
The George Floyd protests, and eventual riots, have turned many downtowns into virtual combat zones. When they began, the protests in New York were like many across the nation. A seemingly peaceful gathering… until night began to fall.
Though many were preaching peace, “Come in peace, say what you have to do, say what you have to say,” one protester said. “Black lives matter. That’s the message. Period. That’s it. Look at this. Peaceful. That’s all. Just hear us. Hear our cries.” Peace was not what happened.
And that was just the beginning. Bridges across New York were shut down by marching protesters. The Manhattan Bridge was completely shut off while the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges saw their fair share of protesters. For the longest time, keeping the peace was the goal. At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, police, and protesters even shared the peace.
Sadly, it didn’t last. As we’ve seen across our once great nation, the sh*t hit the fan in a large way. Already decimated by the coronavirus, businesses were completely destroyed by rioters and looters.
As one rioter, Antoripa Dey, said to abc7ny, “Honestly I think the looting is completely justified, these people have been looted from by their country for their entire lives.” If that is justification, then so be it.
But the damage, wow. Lower Manhattan was hit hard. Apple and Verizon stores, clothing stores, jewelry stores, and everything in between was destroyed. Broken into and then set afire. Cameras caught much of the mess as it was happening because, if anything, we love to post on social media.
It also appears we love a little violence and looting tossed in there. Or as another protester quipped, “If people aren’t going to listen when it’s peaceful, maybe they’ll listen when something like this happens.” When was it peaceful and will “they” listen?
As NYC and the rest of the nation moves into one more day of protesting (aka rioting) it remains to be seen whether the violence will continue. Many stores in the Big Apple attempted to get in front of the rioting by boarding up their windows, often to no avail.
The damage brought on by the rioting will take a long time to clean up, both physically and emotionally. The loss, in terms of money, is hard to estimate at the moment as the rioting and looting continues. Many cities are calling upon the National Guard and possibly the active duty Military Police to help quell the violence, but the damage could already have been done. Buildings continue to burn, as do vehicles.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at first had no intention of implementing a curfew but later had a change of mind, as one long night of looting can do to a mayor. He declared the city a state of emergency and then handed out a 7 pm curfew reasoning “the likely outbreak of civil unrest and disturbance.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) was quick to criticize the curfew set by Mayor de Blasio with NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman stating, “It isn’t the protesters who need curfews, it’s the police. There is no excusing the police terror we have seen this weekend against protesters. We cannot move forward when the response to protesting police brutality against Black people is more police brutality.”
It’s sadly apparent that the George Floyd protests (and rioting) won’t end soon. New York City, as with most big cities across the U.S., continues to prepare for what’s yet to come by beefing up police and military presence. Is it enough? Is it the answer? Do we even know the answer? One more question, regardless of how he tweeted it, was President Trump on the money with this one? Let us know.