More than 50 arrests were made in Manhattan on Nov. 4 after peaceful demonstrations escalated into clashes between law enforcement officers and protesters as the night wore on, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said.
The department stated that dozens of people “attempted to hijack” a peaceful protest by lighting fires, hurling garbage and eggs, and fighting with officers.
The arrests came after hundreds of peaceful protesters converged on Washington Square Park demanding the counting of every presidential election vote. Bicycles led the march to help clear traffic. A smaller group rallied against police misconduct.
The department later said that while it supports everyone’s right to self-expression, “setting fires puts others at risk and will not be tolerated.”
The police department posted on Twitter photos of several trash fires. Bystander video showed officers in helmets and tactical gear swarming protesters.
“We are working to de-escalate the situation near Morton Street in the West Village to prevent further damage from occurring,” police said.
Several more photos of items confiscated from rioters were later shared by the NYPD, including M-80 explosives and knives.
“These weapons, confiscated at protests tonight, put others at risk. Bringing weapons to peaceful protests cannot and will not be tolerated. We are currently working to de-escalate the situation. Anyone caught with a weapon will be arrested.”
In the lead up to Election Day, federal authorities and state officials cautioned that given existing social tensions, Nov. 3 and the days that follow could be marred by violence, widespread property damage, isolated violent incidents, and a long stretch of mass protests.
The threat assessment warns that threat actors, including nation-states such as China, Iran, and Russia may magnify existing issues to potentially create chaos during the election period.
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said during an October press briefing that this year’s election is “more contentious than in years past.”