Civil Rights Monitors Brace For Encounters with the NYPD as Demonstrators Across The City March In Memory Of George Floyd

At events around the city, demonstrators are commemorating the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by the knee of a police officer, an extrajudicial killing which set off worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism. 

Some of the larger demonstrations this evening will be taking place at McCarren Park and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and Foley Square and Union Square in Manhattan. More than 400 activists are expected to congregate at each of these events, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The NYCLU expects the police presence to be noticeable, and has warned New Yorkers who plan to take part to be prepared in case police are aggressive in making arrests. Many remember last year’s marches for their violence—with police cornering protesters and arresting them when they had nowhere to run.

“You need to film as much as possible while keeping the privacy of others as safe as possible,” NYCLU organizer Isabelle Leyva told Gothamist, who shared with Gothamist a list of behaviors to watch for, and advice for staying safe. “And remember that you have a right to exercise your right to protest.” 

Leyva, who oversees the NYCLU’s police monitoring activities, said people who plan to protest police abuse should keep handy the number for a lawyer, and shout out their name and birthdate if they are arrested—so that others can track them in the system.

Anne Oredeko, the supervising attorney of the Racial Justice Unit for The Legal Aid Society, goes further.

“Do not give officers your cell phone, don’t let your phone have a facial recognition mark either,” she said. “If you’re in the precinct…do not take water, do not take food, because they can use that as an opportunity to steal your DNA.” 

“Our primary goal here is to respect people’s rights to peacefully assembly and protest,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on NY1 earlier Tuesday. “It’s ingrained in this country and we take it very seriously.”

Oredeko said she is uncertain as to whether the demonstrations across the city will remain orderly.

“I’m hoping that the actions [tonight] are peaceful,” Oredeko said.

Joseph Gedeon reported this story for the Gothamist/WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit. If you have a tip, some data, or a story idea, email reporter Joseph Gedeon at or reach out to him on Twitter @JGedeon1. You can also text him tips via the encrypted phone app Signal, or otherwise, at 929-351-5374.