NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD’s newest protest protocol received mixed reception Wednesday, a day after protests against the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, shut down expressways and tunnel entrances.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, thousands rallied Tuesday night. They shut down the FDR Drive, blocked an entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel during the evening rush, and took over the West Side Highway in the late evening hours.
The pictures were stunning, from the arrests and scuffles with officers in Times Square, to the scene of an activist standing on top of a bus shelter with a bullhorn near the United Nations.
The protesters block traffic even walked between and in front of cars to protest the decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, this past summer.
Drivers were delayed and frustrated, and some were scared. And the NYPD let the demonstrators have at it.
It is the NYPD’s protest protocol, Kramer said. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called said protocol allows protesters “breathing room.”
“As long as they remain nonviolent; as long as they don’t engage in issues that cause fear or create vandalism, then we will allow them to demonstrate,” Bratton said.
But some people do not like the protest protocol at all.
“Awful – how could that happen,” said one woman as she drove in her car. “I’m really shocked.”
“The police are afraid to death,” a man said. “They’re afraid to death.”
“They’re trying to manage the situation,” another man said. “It’s not good.”
New Yorkers with differing views left comments on the CBS New York Facebook page.
“Peaceful protest is one thing,” wrote Ken Gesser. “However, when it infringes on the rights of others, that goes too far. The cops should not stand by and let this happen.”
“Considering the fine line they are toeing, I applaud the NYPD for patiently, respectfully handling the protesters, while still keeping the rest of us safe,” added Allison Jean.
City officials said similar reactions can be expected if there are new protests in connection with the Eric Garner chokehold case on Staten Island, or the shooting that police have deemed accidental that killed Akai Gurley in an East New York, Brooklyn public housing building.
“The mayor is fully committed to ensuring that those who wish to make their voices heard by engaging in nonviolent civil protest can do so, while also keeping the peace and maintaining public safety,” said a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
But Sergeants’ Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said the result of the policy is a big problem.
“I really fault the de Blasio administration. It’s almost unfair to the rest of the law-abiding, hardworking citizens of New York,” Mullins said. “People have a right to protest – there’s no doubt about it – but they don’t have a right to disrupt everyone else’s life.”
Police also said that they are ready if anyone tries to disrupt the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. Police have been monitoring social media to detect any threats to the annual event.
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