A crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators protested in Midtown Manhattan on Friday, similar to these demonstrators in Queens, New York City, on Wednesday. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Lauren Aratani, The Guardian, 21 Oct 2023
New York City police arrested more than 130 anti-war protesters after hundreds of people blocked traffic on Fifth Avenue on Friday night.
A crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and marched in the rain from Bryant Park to the Midtown Manhattan office of the New York US senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
“Senator Gillibrand, we will not stop until you call for a ceasefire,” a crowd, led by the New York state assemblymember Zohran Kwame Mamdani, chanted in front of her office.
The demonstration was co-organized by the Democratic Socialists of America and other activist groups. Throughout the night, protesters called for a ceasefire and denounced the murder of Israelis and Palestinians.
“Unfortunately, our political leaders seem to keep failing to learn that lesson again and again that war is not the answer,” Jeremy Cohan, a co-chair of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America, told local news station WABC.
About 8pm local time, a crowd of police officers gathered around the rows of demonstrators blocking traffic and began making arrests. Protesters on the sidewalks shouted “shame on you!” at the officers. Those arrested were handcuffed, transported on white buses and issued summonses to appear in court.
In a statement, the New York police department (NYPD) said a total of 137 people were taken into custody by officers on the scene.
The arrests are the latest this week after mass protests against the Israel-Hamas war. On Wednesday, more than 300 demonstrators at the US Capitol were arrested by police after gathering inside the building. Participants in an earlier demonstration at the White House also were arrested.
Meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Wednesday, Joe Biden vowed to provide Israel with security needs, at the same time appealing to Netanyahu that Israel not be “consumed” by its rage against Hamas. On Friday, the president submitted a $106bn request for Congress for military and humanitarian aid for Israel and Ukraine, along with humanitarian assistance for Gaza.
Congress will not be able to approve the aid request until a new speaker for the US House is chosen. Selecting a speaker is a conflict among House Republicans that has been ongoing for weeks.