UPDATED with vehicle ban: New York City has imposed a curfew of 8 PM on Tuesday, three hours earlier than it began on Monday, after waves of looting followed peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday morning that the curfew would remain in place for the rest of the week, through at least Sunday, lifting each morning at 5 a.m.. In an afternoon update on Twitter, police officials also said that cars would be banned from Manhattan south of 96th Street. Only buses, delivery trucks and vehicles carrying essential workers will be exempt. The New York Police Department tweet didn’t confirm that the vehicle restrictions would apply for the duration of the curfew but flagged it for at least Tuesday night.
The move came after a night of looting across the city. The flagship Macy’s department store in Herald Square, a familiar site to TV viewers of the Thanksgiving Day parade, and a number of other retail stores were ransacked Monday as police worked to contain the situation. President Donald Trump seized on the Macy’s episode in a tweet Tuesday decrying vandalism by “hoodlums and thieves” and calling for National Guard reinforcements.
Before Monday, the last time New York had a curfew was in 1943, when an African-American soldier was shot and injured by a white police officer.
“These protests have power and meaning,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter late Monday. “But as the night wears on, we are seeing groups use them to incite violence and destroy property. Our first priority is keeping people safe, so I’m extending the curfew to Tuesday. It will begin at 8 p.m.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he had coordinated efforts with de Blasio and had planned to double the number of police officers on the streets to 8,000. The show of force did not seem to help deter looting, at least initially, as it swept through Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx, though hundreds of arrests were eventually made. Videos captured by media outlets showed fires being set and looters using sticks and their feet to break through wood, glass and metal to gain access to stores.
De Blasio and Cuomo, who frequently have been at odds over the years, offered different versions of events Tuesday. Cuomo accused de Blasio and the city’s police department of “not doing their jobs.” De Blasio countered that the NYPD had made 700 arrests. “I’m so sick of these efforts to mischaracterize reality,” he said. In traveling around the city late Monday and into Tuesday. “I saw police officers trying to deal with a very difficult situation.”
New York is one of several major cities across the U.S. seeing large-scale demonstrations in the wake of Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
The city already has been crippled for nearly three months by COVID-19, and while the numbers are declining it still has the highest tally of infections and deaths due to the coronavirus of any place in the world. Transit systems and retail stores had already been weeks from making a gradual return, with boarded-up storefronts adding to an already unnerving scene throughout the city.