NYC reaction to Nichols’ death: Two arrested as Times Square protester smashes police car windshield
NEW YORK — More than 100 people showed up at two protests in Manhattan on Friday night as Memphis police released video showing its officers fatally beating Tyre Nichols, a Black man.
There were at least two arrests — including one that came as a protester kicked in a police car windshield in Times Square. “Let him go!” protesters shouted as cops took a man away in handcuffs.
Daily News reporters also saw police lead away a woman wearing a red hoodie. She also appeared to be in handcuffs.
“It’s not just a few bad apples. There are no good cops in a racist system. I don’t care what color they are,” said protest organizer Karla Reyes at the gathering in Times Square, which drew about 100 people.
Five Memphis officers accused of murder in Nichols’ death are Black.
The Times Square protest began around 7 p.m., and about 40 minutes later it began moving south on Broadway to Penn Station and Moynihan Train Hall, before circling back to Times Square, when the police car windshield was smashed.
Another 30 or 40 people appeared at a protest in Union Square. “The only way we get through this is unity — I’m not talking about that khumbaya unity,” said a man with a loudspeaker.
The NYPD had braced for “robust protests” in the city on Friday as the video was released.
“We will have an increased police presence over the next days to ensure that people who choose to are able to express themselves freely and safely,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said on Twitter.
“Our responsibility is to protect the constitutional right to peacefully assemble and protest. While we understand, appreciate, and share the high emotional charge of this tragedy, our department will never tolerate violence, willful destruction, or any other criminality,” Sewell said.
Mayor Eric Adams appealed for New Yorkers infuriated by Nichols’ murder to express their revulsion without turning to violence.
“My message to New Yorkers is to respect the wishes of Mr. Nichols’ mother,” said Adams, noting that RowVaughn Wells and her husband had called for peaceful protest. “If you need to express outrage, do so peacefully.”
In a video speech delivered in City Hall, Adams said he and other mayors around the country had been briefed by the White House, and that he has communicated “with over 125 elected officials here in this city.”
“We discussed the video that will be released today, a video that by all reports will be graphic and disturbing. It will trigger pain and sadness in many of us,” Adams said. “It will make us angry.”
City cops were asked to stay on duty rather than closing out at the end of their shifts, sources briefed on the situation by the NYPD told The News.
Adams said Sewell briefed him on Friday.
“The police commissioner has been sitting down with the team and putting the proper strategies in place to make sure that people can peacefully voice their concerns,” Adams said. “They are fully prepared to allow New Yorkers to peacefully voice their concern based on the outcome.”
Lawyers for Nichols’ family have compared his death to the caught-on-video beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police in 1991.
“The New York State Police are prepared to respond to any incidences,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul. “But again, I will ask everyone to heed the words of Tyre Nichols’ mother, on behalf of her family and his four-year-old child — if you’re going to protest, please do so peacefully in her son’s memory.”
(New York Daily News writers Emma Seiwell, Chris Sommerfeldt, Ellen Moynihan and Larry McShane contributed to this story.)