Scenes from the Looted Streets of Downtown [PHOTOS]
A weekend of violent protests and looting – fueled by the death of George Floyd at the hand of Minneapolis cops – left downtown Manhattan charred and shattered. Businesses in SoHo up to Union Square were some of the hardest hit.
Boogie contributor Eddie Panta was eyewitness to the smash-and-grab bedlam.
Part I: The Nike Store
At 9:50pm Sunday, SoHo was eerily quiet. The bright lights from the Nike store backlit the few dog walkers and the three men standing in front of the four-story sneaker emporium. Then, more men, also dressed in black, emerged from an SUV and were greeted by hugs from three waiting outside.
But as sirens grew louder, they quickly separated to take stances around the corner store. As it turns out, the hired security detail hadn’t arrived a minute too soon. Within seconds, the first wave of protesters rampaged up Broadway carrying signs and chanting “fuck the police.”
While the security proved to dissuade any bad element within the large, and diverse group, moments later, the ALDO storefront was vandalized. But nothing appeared to be stolen as cops quickly gave chase.
Lululemon didn’t get demolished until after the cops drew a line at Wannamaker and Broadway and forced the kids back. Trash fires were lit in the middle of the street as protesters cut off from heading up to Union Square were pushed back, down into SoHo.
Part II: Protecting a Favorite
Warehouse Wine & Spirits was one of many smash-and-grab victims along the Broadway commercial corridor. The initial wave spared the legendary establishment from the vandalism other, newer storefronts like ALDO had suffered. This, despite calls for bottles of “1492” from the stragglers who had not heeded the call to “close the gap” as the march moved up toward Union Square. But the few who had initially attempted to gain access quickly doubled back, and emboldened by a rowdier crowd, broke the windows, gained access, and quickly reemerged with bottles of alcohol. However, within minutes, the looting subsided, as all it took was one lone cyclists to take a stance up against the storefront to dissuade the protestors from any further looting.
Part III: The Advance
The protestors advanced as sirens and horns blared. Some tenants in apartments above banged on pots and pans in solidarity.
Some protestors then broke off into groups taking to side streets following calls to surround Union Square, where other protestors were reportedly being maced.
The smell of smoke overtook the crowd and both the police line that had assembled quickly broke as protestors stepped back to allow passage of a FDNY truck turning west.
Both lines quickly reassembled but the police line stepped back half a block when protesters started chanting, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot. Then, moments later, after the automated announcement to disperse had failed, the police advance pushed the horde south, block-by-block, back to SoHo.
Part IV: The Counter
As the police line pushed south, protesters retreated down Broadway. One lone cyclist on the sidewalk by the 8th Street subway proved easy pickings for a group of NYPD officers apparently seeking to set an example.
Further south, protestors gathered garbage from the sidwalk to set ablaze in the middle of Broadway as the police brought the line down south another block.
Part V: The Aftermath
As the crowd dispersed, the looting and vandalism of Broadway storefronts south of Houston was rampant. Sheer chaos. The police presence proved less than a deterrent as a contingent of protestors indiscriminately vandalized retail, heading east toward the Bowery. NoBull, Scotch and Soda, and the INA consignment shop, and the Amazon outlet on Spring Street were all hit.