At least six people were arrested by NYPD officers in Manhattan near Central Park as Black Lives Matter-affiliated protesters spray-painted graffiti on a Columbus Circle monument.
The NYPD confirmed that the USS Maine national monument was defaced during anti-police demonstrations on Thursday. Protesters marched from Greenwich Village to Columbus Circle.
The six people who were arrested by the NYPD were charged with assault, damaging public property, and more, officials told local media outlets.
“We respect’s everyone right to peacefully protest, but vandalism is not part of peaceful protest. We are working to de-escalate the situation to prevent further damage from occurring,” the department wrote on Thursday night.
Critics of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests have noted that protesters and agitators frequently vandalize and deface public property, statues, and small businesses—likening the defacement of statues of historical figures bears similarities to China’s Great Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, where throngs of Red Guards would chant Maoist slogans as they destroyed temples, statues, and other historic buildings as they tried to eradicate Chinese traditional culture.
We respect’s everyone right to peacefully protest, but vandalism is not part of peaceful protest. We are working to de-escalate the situation to prevent further damage from occurring. pic.twitter.com/UQ9FVl6f69
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 23, 2021
“Due to a demonstration, please avoid the area of East 59 Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Expect delays in the surrounding area,” the department also wrote late on Thursday, adding that New Yorkers should avoid other areas in Manhattan due to demonstrations.
The protest appeared to have been linked to the fatal officer-involved shooting of a teen girl in Ohio who was seen on video apparently trying to stab another girl. According to social media footage, demonstrators were seen carrying “Justice for Ma’Khia Bryant” and “Black Lives Matter” banners, referring to the 16-year-old who was shot, although some noted that the demonstrations were part of the weekly “Stonewall Protests” for “black trans activists.”
In one instance on Thursday night, video footage showed a demonstrator apparently trying to flee police in a taxi cab but officers surrounding the car. It’s not clear if the demonstrator was arrested.
Other videos appeared to show the demonstrators outside the New York Times building in Manhattan, chanting, “[expletive] the New York Times.”
Twitter account Protest NYC claimed they were engaged in a “night of peaceful protesting” before the NYPD descended on them: “Over 200 police surrounded the park where the peaceful protest against police violence had already dispersed to arrest organizers.”