Anti-cop rage over the police-custody death of George Floyd boiled over in Brooklyn on Friday night — with an NYPD van being set on fire in Fort Greene Park and hundreds of protesters trying to surround the 88th precinct in Clinton Hill before being rebuffed by a massive police mobilization.
In all, some 200 people were arrested Friday and early Saturday in separate, heated protests in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, sources told The Post. It was 9:30 p.m. when the empty police van was set ablaze in Fort Greene Park.
A crowd of some 3,000 protesters had converged on the Barclays Center in Prospect Heights hours earlier, with police releasing chemical mace as the demonstration grew unruly and began throwing objects at cops.
And still earlier in the day, in Lower Manhattan, at least 30 protesters were busted, including a man who allegedly punched an NYPD sergeant in the head with brass knuckles. The brass knuckles-wielding man allegedly walloped the sergeant as crowds massed at around 4 p.m. near Centre and Leonard streets.
At the Barclays Center, thousands of angry protesters chanted, “They’re killing us!” and “F–k those pigs” while holding signs that read, “NYPD KKK.” At one point, the crowd roared at the sound of fireworks going off.
Police sprayed mace on protesters after several in attendance began throwing things, police sources said. Cops were caught on camera beating several protestors with batons as onlookers screamed.
Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Brooklyn) said she was sprayed by mace while trying to peacefully protest at the arena, home to the Brooklyn Nets.
“This is uncalled for,” Richardson told a WNYC reporter afterward. “I would never be in a position to be like this. I’m actually out here to make sure the peace is [kept].”
A lot just popped off at the protest for George Floyd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Pepper spray, batons, and several arrests. A second black state lawmaker, Sen. Zellnor Myrie, was also maced. Both are Brooklyn Democrats.
Cops began pushing crowds back to Fourth Avenue as people threw garbage and bottles. Dozens were arrested and rounded up on MTA city buses. Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at the Barclays Center later Friday night, his office said. Earlier, he tweeted a plea for calm.
“We have a long night ahead of us in Brooklyn. Our sole focus is de-escalating this situation and getting people home safe,” the mayor tweeted. “There will be a full review of what happened tonight. We don’t ever want to see another night like this.”
On Classon Avenue, protestors shouted at cops driving by, and one officer was filmed swinging the door of his unmarked cruiser open to clip one of the demonstrators. Protesters are demanding justice for Floyd, the black man in Minneapolis who died Monday after a cop knelt on his neck during his arrest.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested earlier Friday and charged with unintentional murder and manslaughter, though accusations against him may be escalated, a Minnesota prosecutor said.
Manhattan’s demonstrations were one of many high-tempered protests taking place across the country, including violent demonstrations in Minneapolis, where protesters burned down a police precinct on Thursday.
Friday marked the second day of protests in New York City. On Thursday 72 demonstrators were arrested after tense altercations with police.
“I want to just say anyone who wants to protest, we’re going to protect your right to protest, but please also respect [that] the cop in front of you did not create the problem,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday on WNYC radio’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”
After starting in Foley Square at 4 p.m., Manhattan protesters rallied at Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office nearby, to call on the DA to charge Amy Cooper, the dog-walker who called the cops on a black man in Central Park.
“My name is Jumaane Williams and I am not OK,” the city’s Public Advocate said at that protest. “I am a proponent of non-violence … but sometimes you have to afflict the comfortable.”