Hundreds of protestors massed in Union Square then marched to Times Square, growing in numbers as they made their way up Eighth Ave in the wake of the release of videos of the assault by five Memphis police officers that resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols.
Nichols went into a coma and died three days after the vicious assault by the five officers who were fired by the Memphis PD and are now facing second degree murder charges.
The NYPD had stepped up security around local precincts on Friday Jan 27 fearing that local protestors might take out their resentment over the Memphis police attack against local NYPD precinct houses.. Barricades were put up on streets on streets with local precincts houses, closing the block to traffic around the Mid-Town North on 35th St. and the 13th Pct a few blocks away from Union Square. But most of the streets were by open again within hours as protestors moved on.
Despite the chants of “no justice, no peace” and “say his name, Tyre Nichols!” and some calling for defunding the police, there were few clashes in a weekend of protests.
“We’re out here because we’re demanding justice after another police murder. It’s violent, brutal and racist,” said Karla Reyes, a public school teacher. She was part of a group of protestors who gathered on the steps outside Moynihan Station/General Post Office and joined up with other protestors making their way up Eight Ave. from Union Square toward Times Square on Jan. 27th.
After about four hours of marching and protesting, the crowd dispersed on Friday shortly before 11 pm.
During the protest, one person jumped on a squad car in the Times Sq area and smashed its window and was arrested. Police said three were arrested in mid-town, but no names were released. There were no arrests Saturday either in a second night of protesting that started in Washington Square Park.
The video involving the brutal beating in Memphis shows one police officer bashing Nichols with a police baton while he is on the ground and then punching him in the face. When Nichols falls to the ground, he is kicked by another officer and was heard crying out, “mom!” The video showed two officers high fiveing one another after the assault while a seriously injured Nichols was propped up against a police car. Emergency service workers who arrived on the scene seemed to act nonchalantly as they slowed moved to transport the gravely injured victim. Three EMS workers were fired on Monday.
Nichols and the five officers who attacked him were all black. That may have diffused some of the tension that was evident in protest marches following the death of George Floyd, a black man, killed when a white officer kneeled on his neck and suffocated him in late May, 2020, sparking nationwide protests. Some of the NYPD actions during that summer of massive daily local protests drew criticism at the time. But protestors this time seemed intent on avoiding clashes with the NYPD, honoring a Nichols family request for peaceful protests only.
The video does not show why police initially tried to detain him at a traffic stop. On Saturday, the Memphis PD said it was disbanding the street crime unit known as Scorpion, which the five fired police officers who viciously attacked Nichols were a part of. On Monday, the Memphis PD said two other officers connected with the incident that killed Nichols have been suspended pending further investigation.
“We’re out here because we’re demanding justice after another police murder.” Public school teacher Karla Reyes.