Violent MLK Protest in New York City

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Questions Answered in this Post:

  1. What Happened at the Protest in New York City on MLK day?
  2. What are the Results of the Incident?
  3. What are New York Officials Saying?
MLK Day protesters in front of New York’s City Hall on January 19
Paul Martinka

What Happened at the Protest in New York City on MLK day?

On Monday evening, January 18th, protesters marched throughout New York in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. The protest, called the Black Liberation March, began around noon that day at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. From there, the protesters marched all the way through town to end up at New York City Hall in Manhattan. The protest had been peaceful throughout the day until around 8:30 pm. The police ordered the protesters to disperse, but the demonstrators refused. Soon, a few protesters began to throw objects and shout obscenities at the police. As a result, the police began to engage in more aggressive resistance, arresting dozens of people and even wrestling some to the ground. 

Source: NBC News

What are the Results of the incident?

Eleven police officers have endured injuries from the incident, however, six refused to receive medical attention. The remaining five officers were tended to for minor injuries. Though none of the injuries were severe, one police captain did sustain a glass bottle being thrown at his head. Furthermore, over twenty-nine protesters were arrested on accounts of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, and blocking a roadway. There have not yet been any accounts of significant injuries of demonstrators. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James. Source: wivb

What Are New York Officials Saying?

Immediately following this, the Commissioner of the New York Police Department has defended the actions of the police officers. He claims that their actions were completely justified because the protestors have been inciting riots and bringing destruction to cities. He says: “When you march from Brooklyn over a bridge, you try to shut down the traffic on the bridge…These aren’t actions that are caused by police officers, so that’s a news flash for the AG. These are actions caused by people that want to destroy our way of life and our city and we’re not going to let it happen.”

This protest is just one of many that have developed from the roots of the protests that began in the summer of 2020. Tensions between constituents of the Black Lives Matter protests and the police have skyrocketed since the movement first took off following the murder of George Floyd. Prior to this incident, New York Attorney General, Letitia James, felt that there had been enough maltreatment towards the demonstrators and sued the New York Police Department for use of “excessive enforcement” on protestors that engaged in the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. James makes this claim on the grounds of the police usage of pepper spray and batons on protesters, ‘kettling’, or trapping demonstrators, and arresting medics and legal observers. Following this incident, she posted a tweet expressing her concerns that similar over-aggression and inappropriate enforcement of power had been utilized in this situation. Thus, in her lawsuit, she is calling for more thorough supervision of the New York Police Department, including the retirement of the stop-and-frisk policy and the elimination of such aggressive resistance.


  • On January 18th, 2021, a march in honor of MLK, going by the name of the Black Liberation March, concluded their march at City Hall in Manhattan.
  • The protest turned violent and New York cops arrested over 29 demonstrators and had 11 cops sustain minor injuries.
  • The NYPD Commissioner says that the officers’ actions were completely justified, claiming that protesters having been bringing it upon themselves.


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