New York officials on Saturday denounced acts of violence in the city’s protests over George Floyd‘s death, after about 300 protesters were arrested in days.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a briefing that some protestors “came with an agenda of violence and incitement,” and the city does not allow it to happen.
“Any protestor who tries to take the humanity away from a police officer and devalue them just because they are a public servant is no better than the racists who devalue people of color and particularly black men in America,” he noted.
The mayor also urged the police not to take any aggressive acts towards peaceful protestors.
Since Thursday, thousands of New Yorkers have taken to the street to voice their anger over police brutality and racism in the country that together led to Floyd’s death on Monday in Minneapolis.
More than 70 people were arrested after clashes with police in Manhattan’s Union Square on Thursday. Some threw a trash can towards police and an officer was punched in the face.
On Friday, a generally peaceful demonstration turned violent in the evening in the Brooklyn borough. A police van was set on fire with some others destroyed.
In another place, protesters threw water bottles at police, according to videos circulating online, and over 200 people were arrested Friday.
New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told the same briefing with de Blasio on Saturday that a protester had thrown a molotov cocktail towards a van with officers inside.
“We have multiple officers injured,” said Shea. “This was a volatile, as the mayor said, dangerous situation and any and all violence we denounce. We can do better than this and we must.”
On Saturday, more people joined demonstrations held at various locations across the city. Local media ABC News reported that around three dozen arrests had been made by the afternoon, mostly due to some protesters’ attempts to take over highways.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said at Saturday’s briefing that he stands with the protestors, but violence “never is the answer”
Violence is “counterproductive,” he said, because it “obscures the righteousness of the message and the mission.”
Meanwhile, Cuomo said that he and de Blasio, the governor and the mayor, have agreed to initiate an independent investigation into the clashes between the police and protesters on Friday, which will be led by state’s Attorney General Tish James.