Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 1:30 p.m. ET.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There were multiple arrests after protesters gathered at Grand Central before taking to the streets Friday night.
Police struggled to hold back the elbow-to-elbow protesters covering the main floor of Grand Central Terminal.
— Ali Bauman (@AliBaumanTV) January 31, 2020
The group started gathering just after 5 p.m., many wearing masks and carrying anti-police posters. Some tried to hang banners in the terminal, all aiming to disrupt the evening commute.
According to police, the NYPD arreted 13 people and gave out 11 summonses, while the MTA police made three arrests and eight summonses.
Prior to staging the disruption on Friday, three masked members of the protest group could be seen in a Twitter video encouraging people to skip fares, damage turnstiles and engage in a mass sabotage of the MTA, pointing followers toward a demonstration at Grand Central.
The group says it wants to abolish subway fares and get rid of police patrols in the transit system.
“There’s so much in the budget that can cover free transportation instead of more police. I don’t understand why it’s going that way instead of the other way,” protester Sydney Daniels said.
Some frustrated commuters pushed back against protesters.
“We need more cops on the trains. Less muggings, less rapes,” one commuter said.
A woman named Brandy says she held a turnstile open for half an hour today, helping people evade the fare.
“We pay for the metro with our taxes. Why are we being charged then hounded if we don’t pay to use it? And of course, it’s disproportionately brown and black people being hounded and arrested,” Brandy said.
Anti-police graffiti was also abundant at stations around the city.
This morning, a group of individuals vandalized subway stations. We believe the same individuals will attempt to disrupt the evening commute in the subway by causing disorder, endangering commuters – and even attempting to physically assault our officers.
IT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED pic.twitter.com/okeinSuMuN
— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) January 31, 2020
“This morning, a group of individuals vandalized subway stations. We believe the same individuals awill attempt to disrupt the evening commute by causing disorder, endangering commuters – and even attempting to physically assault our officers. IT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED,” NYPD Chief of Department Terrence Monahan said on Twitter.
“While the NYPD will always protect people’s right to protest, we will not accept illegal behavior that threatens the safety of others. Those who break the law will be arrested,” Monahan said in an accompanying video message.
The Police Benevolent Association warned New Yorkers to pay close attention, calling this “an end of all policing and destruction of public order.”
The NYPD was well-prepared, adding extra patrols at MTA stations. Heavily armed officers guarded every entrance of Grand Central. Police made several arrests as tensions flared.
Checking in on our subway riders this afternoon, and each of our transit officers who are working to keep our subway system safe pic.twitter.com/RWP8zv5mBx
— NYPD Transit (@NYPDTransit) January 31, 2020
“I saw all the police officers and I get concerned,” said Connecticut resident Tina Mihocko. “Both of my sons are police officers in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and I’m definitely concerned for all them. I’m concerned for people on both sides.”
After marching out of Grand Central, the hundreds of protesters divided and dispersed, some jumping the turnstile at Bryant Park, blocking entrances at Penn Station and marching in the streets throughout Brooklyn.
Police are also investigating if protesters threw a hammer through a restaurant window in lower Manhattan while customers were inside. A 20-year-old woman was injured by the shattering glass.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman asked one protester what she was hoping for.
“That there’s more awareness, people are more heard. These issues are affecting actual lives,” she said.
Many people CBS2’s Jessica Moore spoke with say society would be chaos without police on the ground.
“The police are here to help us. You can’t have criminals roaming around with weapons, so we actually need people like police to prevent worse things from happening,” said Lower East Side resident Irwin Meza.
“This demonstration activity follows the dangerous pattern of previous activities that have resulted in vandalization and defacement of MTA property – clearly violating laws. Those actions divert valuable time, money and resources away from investments in transit services that get New Yorkers to their jobs, schools, doctors and other places they need to go. The MTA has zero-tolerance for any actions that threaten the safety of the public and our employees, and impede service for millions of customers. We are monitoring conditions as we cooperate with the NYPD and MTA PD to maintain service while ensuring everyone’s safety,” MTA Chief Security Officer Patrick Warren said.
Police say as a result of the protests, there have been several incidents of property damage.