The incident happened during protests over the death of George Floyd.
Several videos of the incident circulated on Twitter. It shows protesters moving a barricade in front of a police cruiser and standing behind it.
The majority of the protesters stand in front of the vehicle and on its sides.
The crowd throws debris, including a traffic cone, at the vehicle. Shortly after another NYPD cruiser tries to pass, the first cruiser lurches forward into the protesters.
A video shot from above the incident shows several people falling to the ground.
There did not appear to be any protesters behind the vehicle at the time.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 31, 2020
At a late-night press conference, the mayor addressed the incident.
“I’ve seen that video and I’ve obviously heard about a number of other instances. It’s inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers. That’s wrong on its face, and that hasn’t happened in the history of protests in the city,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio said that while there have been people trying to protest peacefully over the past few days, he believes there is a small number of people “who chose to commit acts of violence who are here only unfortunately to agitate and to attack those who protect us, our police officers.”
“It’s clear that a different element has come into play here who are trying to hurt police officers and trying to damage their vehicles. And if a police officer is in that situation, they have to get out of that situation,” the mayor said.
He went on to call the video “upsetting” and said he wished the officers hadn’t driven into the protesters, but he said the officers did not start the situation.
“The situation was started by a group of protesters converging on a police vehicle, attacking that vehicle. It’s unacceptable,” de Blasio said.
The mayor said he wants to see violent protesters off the streets, adding the “everyday people” of New York City are not the ones committing acts of violence against police officers and police vehicles.
“In a situation like that, it’s a very, very tense situation. And imagine what it would be like, you’re just trying to do your job and then you see hundreds of people converging upon you. I’m not gonna blame officers who are trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation,” de Blasio said. “The folks who were converging on that police car did the wrong thing to begin with and they created an untenable situation. I wish the officers had found a different approach. But let’s begin at the beginning. The protesters in that video did the wrong thing to surround them, surround that police car, period.”
At a news conference later Sunday morning, the mayor again addressed the issue.
“I didn’t like what I saw one bit. I never want to see something like that. I don’t want to see anything like that again. We need to do a full investigation and look at the actions of those officers and see what was done, why it was done, how it could’ve been done differently,” he said.
“We are deeply disturbed by videos showing NYPD officers driving SUVs into crowds of people during last night’s protest in Brooklyn. We demand a full investigation into these events, and for our mayor to hold those responsible accountable. Such brutal tactics, like using 6,000-pound SUVs as weapons against people, must be immediately rooted out of the NYPD by Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Shea. These actions are unacceptable and run counter to the very concept of street safety and Vision Zero that the NYPD is supposed to uphold,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris said in a statement.
Marco Conner DiAquoi, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, also reacted to the video.
“It shows a callous disregard for fellow New Yorkers,” he told CBS2’s Dave Carlin. “These acts of the NYPD in wielding multi-ton vehicles against protesters undermines the effort to make our streets safer.”