The 8 p.m. citywide curfew, New York’s first in decades, had been set to remain in effect through at least Sunday, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of shutdowns because of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
“Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter in his announcement of the curfew’s end “effective immediately.”
“Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart.”
New York City: We are lifting the curfew, effective immediately. Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city.
Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart. Keep staying safe. Keep looking out for each other.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 7, 2020
The move followed New York City police pulling back on enforcing the curfew Saturday as thousands took to the streets and parks in protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
More than two hours after the curfew had passed Saturday night, groups of several hundred demonstrators continued to march in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while police monitored them but took a hands-off approach.
Local politicians and civil liberties advocates had called for an end to the 8 p.m. curfew, complaining that it causes needless friction when officers try to enforce it. But de Blasio had initially insisted the curfew would remain in place throughout the weekend.
At protests in Manhattan earlier Saturday, volunteers handed out snacks, first aid kits, and plenty of water bottles on a muggy afternoon. One person carried a sign listing nearby open buildings for those seeking to escape the heat—which some soon did when a rain storm arrived.
Thousands of people crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan, where other groups numbering in the hundreds to thousands marched or gathered in places like Foley Square, home to state and federal court buildings, and Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.
Further uptown, police had erected barriers to all but close off Times Square to vehicle and foot traffic.
As the curfew passed, a large group of protesters walked onto the FDR Drive, the main north-south artery along Manhattan’s east side, closely monitored by police, forcing police to temporarily shut down one side of the roadway.
Images on social media on Friday night about an hour after a Brooklyn protest ended showed officers surrounding a group of protesters and chasing down some with batons. And officers on Manhattan’s East Side also used force to break up remnants of a march that started near the mayor’s official residence.
There were about 40 arrests citywide Friday—far fewer than previous nights—and no obvious signs of the smash-and-grab stealing that marred protests earlier in the week.
By Brian Mahoney
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report