Exactly what is this curfew for? And who is it designed to protect?

If you caught the thousands streaming into Manhattan after the rally at the Barclay Center Thursday evening, or observed or joined any of the protests over the past week, you would know that it’s been about the best organized disorganized operation ever. And they are doing all of this — making themselves heard and rallying thousands — with a total of one megaphone, a long rope and five or six people on bikes to shepherd the crowd. On Tuesday, after about three hours of marching, I asked the leader where she was headed next. “We don’t know,” she said, “we just keep moving.”

An officer near the 1st Precinct told me the same thing. “They can go wherever they want. We are just following.”

Yet braced for that same crowd on Thursday evening at City Hall Park and Foley Square were dozens and dozens of officers of every kind: beat cops, community affairs cops, NYPD Legal in special jackets, detectives, you name it. And come 8 p.m., you can find them gathered again in force, as the photos from Tuesday and Wednesday night on West Street show you. There are even state troopers at the Holland Tunnel.

So here’s the question: what — and who — is the curfew for, exactly? The looting that took place on Sunday night — ruining Maxwell’s, almost looting Tribeca Apothecary, and smashing about eight other windows — took place at 4 a.m. Yet the streets after curfew here are deathly quiet. I have not spotted any patrols or a police presence on the city’s commercial streets.

If the curfew is designed to protect neighborhoods from looters, where are the after-dark patrols? Why spend daylight hours pushing protestors back, starting at 8:15? (See Mara Sonnenschein’s photos taken just after 8 on Tuesday, below.) Let the protests continue — marchers will go home eventually since they are more than prepared to come back the next day. And come back they should! Instead deploy even a fraction of that force to protect the businesses that are using the last of their cash reserves to reopen — hello, Gotan — so they don’t have to close again to protect what’s left. They just might not start over.

And I would love to hear the rationale for closing CitiBike stations at 6. So the looters can’t use them to transport their haul?

This protest is not about Tribeca, but some of this is playing out here. We may be one of the richest zip codes in the country, but that is not who is keeping our grocery stores open, our restaurants serving and our bars trying to bring a bit of life — and relief — back to the streets. Those of us who want to support them, so they can be here for when we all return, can’t go out either, and those who want to commit crimes against them will go out regardless.

Living with a curfew is not the same as wearing a mask. We are not working for the greater good and protecting each other. We are just hurting both the people who want to make change and the people who want to bring the city back to life.




  1. Exactly!

  2. Thank you for this. Well said, and let’s all support our peaceful protesters and join them in solidarity when we can.

  3. The looting stopped after the curfew started. That’s why we have a curfew.

  4. Didn’t the looting and vandalism, from smashed storefronts to molotov cocktails to burning cars, pretty much stop once curfew was in place? I thought that was the point. Not to stop peaceful protests, which can of course go on during daylight hours, but to stop the so-called “bad actors” who were primarily bad-acting at night.

    Anyway – The curfew has been listed a day early, so the city is “open” (so to speak) all night tonight.

  5. Curfews are a very simple form of crowd control. You’re left with the remaining few who have a job to go to, or those that are actively looking to test the limits of the system.

    Tribeca got hurt, but SoHo got destroyed. The second you cross north of Canal along W. Broadway, you’ll see the reason why they called a curfew. Only problem was they set that curfew way too late.

  6. Well said Pam.

  7. Curfews are also a good way to keep my daughter from spending too much time canoodling with that Petersen boy. He’s trouble I tell you. Not a looter, but something.

  8. We’re living through a pandemic AND a protest-apalooza and you’re just throwing out one word comments? Is your flash cards filled? SD cards? There are protest puddle reflections just waiting for you! And so much more! Hate to rip on you, but Pam you need to have a weekly exhibition of Ripp’s stay-at-home work. Arne Svenson isn’t going to shoot anything unless it is inappropriate first, then both visible from his apartment window and his telephoto lens. I’d rather Rip it with Ripps!

  9. The curfew was necessary, and unfortunately came too late as
    looting has destroyed so many small stores and businesses which are the life blood of our neighborhoods. These store owners already lost 2 1/2 months of revenue but still had to pay
    their fixed costs, rent, electric, insurance. Now their windows are smashed and their inventories looted and many won’t be able to reopen, so will lose their life savings and future income.

    These businesses hired workers contractors, brought from local suppliers etc. So the damage is not just to one store it’s to
    the entire network that these businesses supported. Very little has been said by politicians to recognize how much these mom & pop businesses have lost, very little has been said condemning the criminals who looted.

    Unfortunately the bad actors who looted used the protests as
    cover, but that is usually what happens, so the curfew was needed and justified,I just wish DeBlasio had done it sooner.