34 in custody after pro-Palestinian protest at Brooklyn Museum, damage to artwork reported

New York City police officers detain a pro-Palestinian demonstrator during a protest demanding a permanent cease-fire in Gaza on Friday, May 31, 2024, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

The NYPD said Saturday that they had 34 people in custody following a pro-Palestinian protest at the Brooklyn Museum, which reported damage to some artwork and harassment to security staff by demonstrators.

Hundreds of protesters marched to the museum on Friday afternoon, set up tents in the lobby and unfurled a "Free Palestine" banner from the building's roof before police moved in to make arrests.

New York City police officers tackled and punched some protesters during scuffles that broke out in the crowd outside the museum while some demonstrators hurled plastic bottles at officers and shouted insults. Other protesters held banners, waved Palestinian flags and chanted boisterously on the steps of the grand, Beaux Arts museum, which is the city’s second largest.

City police said the 34 people in custody were being processed and charges were being determined.

A New York City police officer punches a pro-Palestinian demonstrator as he pins him on the ground during a protest demanding a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, Friday, May 31, 2024, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Museum spokesperson Taylor Maatman said in a statement that the museum closed an hour early because of concerns about people's safety and the art collections.

"Unfortunately, there was damage to existing and newly installed artwork on our plaza, and our public safety staff were physically and verbally harassed," Maatman said.

The rally started Friday afternoon across the street from the Barclays Center, home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. Marchers banging drums and chanting then made their way to the museum about a mile away.

Organizers, including the group Within Our Lifetime, called on supporters to "flood" and "de-occupy" the museum, saying they wanted to take over the building until officials " disclose and divest " from any investments linked to Israel's actions in Gaza.

Videos posted on social media showed guards at the museum trying to secure its doors against the surging crowd, and demonstrators finding other ways inside.

Within Our Lifetime posted on social media that its chair, Nerdeen Kiswani, was "targeted and violently arrested" by police.

New York City has seen hundreds of street demonstrations since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began in October.

The Brooklyn Museum sits at the edge of Crown Heights, which is home to one of the city's largest communities of Orthodox Jews.