“Finally We’re Starting to See People Care”: Hundreds Peacefully Defy Curfew in Brooklyn to Demand Justice

Mother Jones/Mark Helenowski

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Police trailed a raucous, peaceful protest of several hundred people in Brooklyn early Wednesday night, permitting demonstrators to take over streets past curfew. While sporadic confrontations broke out at separate protests later, at least for these twilight hours, the scene provided a striking contrast to days of images dominated by police aggression.

As the sun set, and a citywide curfew came and went, our digital producer Mark Helenowski followed a sizable group of spirited protesters through the Bushwick and Williamsburg neighborhoods of Brooklyn, just one of many such groups across the city, large and small. Residents shouted support from rooftops; others banged pots while leaning out windows. On the ground, truck drivers, postal workers, and transport officers stopped to cheer on street corners. “Fuck your curfew!” the group chanted. A police officer on the scene said the NYPD would let the protest continue “as long as it stays peaceful.”

The afternoon’s breaking news that all four officers involved in George Floyd’s death have now been charged won’t abate the defiance and energy of protesters, said Dawaun Hill, a 28-year old accountant. “I wish [the charges] would have happened without the reaction of the people,” he said. “But wait—people have to riot? People have to loot?”

Kevon, a 35-year old bike messenger, agreed. “I know they’re just token charges. They don’t want any more destruction of property, so they’re going to throw a couple of their own under the bus.”

“Power to the people!” Courtney Bledsoe, a 33-year-old comedian, yelled from the sidewalk. “Your whole life, you watch black people die. You watch them die. And nobody cares. And finally we’re starting to see people care,” she said, wiping away tears.

Bledsoe said she hoped these protests marked a threshold moment for public awareness about state-sanctioned violence. “We have marched, and marched, and marched, and it wasn’t until that video of George Floyd that people really woke up. It’s amazing, it’s amazing to see.”

“The government is starting to realize that this is a real movement going,” said Gary Guzman, a 35-year-old owner of the local Brooklyn Drip clothing store, in between bouts of leading the group in chants. “Every day is getting stronger and stronger.”

This was his third day of protesting—and he’s not quitting anytime soon: “We won’t stop until we have what we need in this country.”

Mother Jones/Mark Helenowski

Listen to Mother Jones reporters cover protests from Minneapolis to New York, on this episode of the Mother Jones Podcast:

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate