NEW YORK >> At least 20 people were arrested Wednesday night at a post-Election Day protest in New York City after police say piles of trash were set on fire and bottles were hurled at officers.
The arrests happened after hundreds of marchers demanding the counting of every presidential election vote converged on Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, where a smaller group started rallying against police misconduct.
Some of the people arrested were fighting with officers while others were blocking traffic, police said. The police department tweeted photos of several trash fires. Bystander video showed officers in helmets and tactical gear swarming protesters.
“We support everyone’s right to self-expression, but setting fires puts others at risk and will not be tolerated,” the NYPD’s tweet said. “We are working to de-escalate the situation… to prevent further damage from occurring.”
Activists quickly condemned the arrests and police tactics, which they said were reminiscent of the way officers penned protesters in during demonstrations in the spring and summer over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Joo-Hyun Kang, the executive director of Communities United for Police Reform, tweeted: “This is police violence. This is police violence. This is NYPD trying to intimidate and suppress protests & 1st Amendment activity.”
Until Wednesday night’s clashes, post-election protest activity in the city had been largely peaceful. The “Count Every Vote” march, one of several across the U.S., was planned days in advance after President Donald Trump first suggested that he would challenge the results of a close vote.
Hundreds of people marched past Fifth Avenue luxury stores, which were boarded up earlier in the week in anticipation of potential unrest.
Activist Linda Sarsour, the co-founder of the 2017 Women’s March, encouraged demonstrators outside the New York Public Library to keep marching against injustice in the days and weeks ahead, telling them: “Let’s stay in the street regardless of the outcome of this election.”