‘It felt dangerous’: Destructive Brooklyn protest, with trash fires and broken windows, leaves local residents shaken
The manager of a small Brooklyn Yemeni restaurant, on the morning after a violent protest marked by trash fires and broken windows, wondered Wednesday what the demonstrators hoped to accomplish.
Mahmoud Alsafarini, 25, arrived at the Hadramout Restaurant for his shift just a few doors down from the shattered glass at an Urban Outfitters outlet. Several black-clad demonstrators also smashed windows at a Starbucks and a Bank of America branch on Court St., along with the windshield of a green taxi, in a demonstration over the Philadelphia police shooting of a knife-wielding Black man.
“These businesses don’t belong to them,” said Alsafarini in the aftermath of the wild march where 39 commercial properties were damaged. “Say what you need to say without violence. I was worried initially because the employees were still here. They didn’t have anything to protect themselves.”
The NYPD reported 27 arrests as five officers suffered minor injuries. The protesters also damaged nine police vehicles and spray-painted a police van, several bus shelters, a Chase Bank and a statue of Christopher Columbus outside Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Local resident Michelle Wagner, 52, said the feeling during the Tuesday night march was different from the many local protests of recent months.
“This was the first time it felt dangerous in the neighborhood,” said Wagner, whose 12-year-old daughter began crying as they watched the protest from the window of their Brooklyn Heights apartment. “More protests need to happen, but not this way. A lot of people in the Black Lives Matter movement are very upset today.”
A security guard stood watch early Wednesday near an overturned trash can at the vandalized Bank of America branch. Police tape kept passersby from getting too close, though dozens stopped to snap photos of the scene.
The scene was similar at the Urban Outfitters, where two workers were putting up wood over the shattered windows on a rainy morning after the protest with about 200 participants.[More New York] EXCLUSIVE: NYPD cop who roughed up bystander in East Village social distancing arrest opts to resign instead of facing department trial »
“Burn the precinct to the ground!” the marchers chanted. “Every city, every town!”
Multiple videos captured the driver of a dark-colored sedan plowing through a line of NYPD officers on bicycles, ignoring an officer who smashed his baton against one of the windows.
Abraham Karkanni, owner of the Malko Brothers Co. wholesale grocery store, arrived Wednesday at his Brooklyn Heights business to see the broken glass a few doors down at the Urban Outfitters and at other local businesses.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” the 86-year-old Syrian immigrant said. “I’ve been here 30 years. Very safe area over here.”