"There's somethin' happenin' here. But what it is ain't exactly clear. There's a man with a gun over there, a-tellin' me I got to beware. I think it's time we stop, Children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down."
When the police finally beat a retreat from the streets and sidewalks they've occupied illegally under cover of the pandemic and protests, we may mark Wednesday as having been the turning point.
That was the day New Yorkers and their representatives began to register loud and clear their disgust and dismay at the barricading of our public right of way (and what it signals about the techniques of movement control and racial profiling that we've come to accept in our city).
First, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (who, unlike the president of the United States, actually acts like she's president of all the people) wrote to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea demanding an end to the "siege mentality" and a return of the commandeered streets and sidewalks. She proffered a survey documenting the extent of the occupation.
Later that day, as Streetsblog reported, the transportation panel of Community Board 6, representing Gramercy Park, Turtle Bay and East Midtown, voted unanimously to demand that two precincts in its district, the 13th and the 17th, take down their barricades. The 17th, on E. 51st Street, has been displaying an obnoxious "NYPD Checkpoint" banner.
As Buffalo Springfield sang all those years ago: "Everybody look what's going down."
We'll see if the mayor, who airily declared recently that the police were pulling back in many venues, gets with the program.
In other news yesterday:
- A cyclist — the 11th this year — was killed by an MTA bus driver in Queens and (whaddya know?) cops are blaming the victim (NYDN, Streetsblog).
- More than 100 protesters are suing the police over the violent mass arrest in The Bronx earlier in the summer (Gothamist).
- Mask compliance could be better in the subway (NYPost).
- Without a massive federal cash infusion, the MTA will need to cut workers (NYPost).
- In more police news, the governor doesn't want a probe of police corruption in Mount Vernon (Gothamist).
- The pandemic-induced drop in ridership has imperiled subway shops (amNY).
- Expect to see more police vehicles on Labor Day (amNY).
- Finally, a car driver plowed right into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Times Square (via Twitter). They were demonstrating against the death earlier this year of a man who was suffocated by police in Rochester (Gothamist).