Mayor de Blasio ends NYC curfew 'effective immediately,' announces police reforms
NEW YORK - New York City is lifting its curfew spurred by protests against police brutality ahead of schedule, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday morning.
The 8 p.m. citywide curfew, New York's first in decades, had been set to remain in effect through at least Sunday, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of shutdowns because of the coronavirus.
“Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city,” de Blasio tweeted in his announcement of the curfew's end “effective immediately.” “Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart.”
The move followed New York City police pulling back on enforcing the curfew Saturday as thousands took to the streets and parks to protest police brutality, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
De Blasio also announced a number of police reforms, moving resources from the NYPD to youth and social services as part of the city’s budget although he did not give details. He also reiterated his support for reforming the 50-a law, a piece of legislation that makes the records of police officers confidential, said enforcement of street vendors would no longer be the NYPD's responsibility and said the city will establish a community ambassadors program within the NYPD.
Local politicians and civil liberties advocates had called for an end to the 8 p.m. curfew, complaining that it causes needless friction when officers try to enforce it. But de Blasio had initially insisted the curfew would remain in place throughout the weekend.
Protesters again filled the streets of New York City on Sunday, demanding justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality. Most demonstrators were seen wearing masks, as officials have urged protesters to get tested for COVID-19. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that New York would be opening 15 coronavirus testing sites dedicated to protesters.
“COVID-19 hit the inner city harder than anybody else,” said Brandon Watts, a black pastor at Epiphany Church in Brooklyn. Watts mandated that participants wear a mask at a “Pray & Protest” march he organized Sunday with several other churches. “So we have to be very careful. We’re the only ones in a pandemic within a pandemic.”
Catherine Corien, a 60-year-old dental hygienist in Brooklyn, held off attending protests all week because she was afraid of catching the virus, but she stood near the back of a protest in Bed-Stuy on Sunday wearing a mask and keeping some distance from other protesters.
“I’m very concerned, but at the same time, a lot of people, if they are like me and decided to stay home, nothing would have happened,” she said.
In order to ease the process of reopening, De Blasio also announced that Alternate Side Parking is canceled beginning June 8 through June 21.
The curfew comes to an end as New York City prepares to begin Phase One of reopening on Monday, June 8. Between 200,000 and 400,000 workers in businesses like manufacturing, construction, wholesale, and retail are expected to return to the workplace.