By Kevin Deutsch and Sasha Gonzales
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Police violently cracked down on curfew-breaking protestors in the Bronx Thursday night, with smartphone footage showing cops beating demonstrators with batons, using force to arrest multiple marchers, and hauling zip-tied activists off to jail in waiting Department of Correction buses.
The police action was personally overseen by NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, who appears on video directing officers to take at least one peaceful demonstrator into custody, authorities said.
Witnesses told Bronx Justice News a large number of cops arrived at the protest in force fifteen minutes before curfew, hemmed in demonstrators once the clock struck 8 p.m., and began arresting marchers.
Multiple activist groups – including the radical grassroots organizations Decolonize This Place and Take Back the Bronx – as well as hundreds of local residents, marched across the borough last night in response to the police killing of George Floyd, who was slain by cops in Minneapolis.
One of Floyd’s killers kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, until his heart stopped. The officers involved have since been arrested and charged in Floyd’s death.
The Bronx protestors targeted by cops Thursday had been marching through The Hub, a business district in the heart of the South Bronx.
The area is among the poorest neighborhoods in America, with data showing residents suffer disproportionally from air pollution, asthma, poor health outcomes, food deserts, overpolicing, street violence, and COVID-19, among other ills.
Citywide, authorities said they made more than 200 arrests related to demonstrations overnight.
The mass unrest roiling cities across the U.S. first reached the Bronx early Tuesday, with demonstrations turning violent near Yankee Stadium and looters laying waste to stores during a destructive, hours-long spree, authorities said.
Amid violent clashes with police, the looters damaged local pharmacies, delis, beauty supply stores, pawn shops, and other businesses on Fordham Road, the Grand Concourse, and Burnside Avenue, busting out storefront windows and making off with stolen property, according to the NYPD.
Multiple fires were set in borough roadways, their flames burning well into the early morning hours as police struggled to contain unrest across the five boroughs.
The next day, scores of community members came together to clean up the debris and begin repairing property damage in the Bronx.
By Thursday night, Bronx NYPD commanders seemed to have settled on a no-tolerance policy for demonstrators out past curfew, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio vowing earlier that activists would be permitted to march peacefully after 8 p.m.