NEW YORK — The young girl is weeping and terrified, surrounded by members of the New York Police Department, her hands cuffed behind her back while outraged protesters shout a mix of pleas and threats to let her go. The chaotic scene was captured on a 21-second snippet of video that was deleted from Twitter about 10 minutes after being posted.
It was taken in Lower Manhattan on Thursday evening during protests against police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s choking death by police officers in Minneapolis.
Protestors can be heard shouting obscenities at officers and in one case urging them to kill themselves in the video as they detain the girl near the corner of West and Chambers streets in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood.
It is not clear from the video why police tried to detain the girl. She looks visibly shaken, seemingly with no parents in sight, as she and a young man are taken into police custody. The NYPD’s public information office declined to comment for this story.
The girl can be seen crying as police affix plastic handcuffs to her wrists, appearing unfazed by the emotional pleadings of the onlookers.
“That’s a baby right there, don’t do that to that little baby, don’t do that to that little girl,” said one protestor, pleading with officers while another women shouted for officers to commit suicide.
The NYPD has not provided any update on the status of either person in the video, or whether they are expected to be charged with any crimes.
Beginning in Union Square Park around 3 p.m. Thursday, several hundred protesters and police began facing off along 14th Street, blocking sidewalks and causing traffic to be diverted. Hostilities quickly boiled over as police began enforcing social distancing orders due to the coronavirus.
At one point tensions became so high that one NYPD officer snapped a baton in half across a protestor’s leg while attempting an arrest, according to a video uploaded to Twitter.
By 6 p.m., as the protest began to move south toward City Hall, activists found themselves choked off at various points by police, forcing them to splinter off into groups.
The protest stemmed from larger national turmoil over the killing of Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody Monday.
Floyd was seen on video gasping for air as a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck in an effort to arrest him. He has become the latest national symbol for groups wanting to draw attention to police brutality against unarmed black men.
While New York’s protests were relatively tame by comparison, across the country protestors have begun taking their frustrations out against police departments, with several groups around the country smashing police cars and burning buildings.
No police cars were smashed in the Manhattan protests, though at one point a trash can was thrown at NYPD officers, according to video posted online.
Seventy-two people are believed to have been arrested, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
With no apparent end in sight for now, activists in New York City are planning to rally again today, this time beginning on the steps in front of City Hall.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has made no statement about the protests, though indicated via Twitter that he is “horrified,” by Floyd’s death, adding “If George was white, he would be alive right now.”