Prepping for New Year's Eve in Times Square: NYPD Braces for Pro-Palestine Protests

On Friday, Mayor Adams and police officials said that although there are no known security risks associated with this weekend's New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, the New York Police Department is preparing for the potential presence of thousands of pro-Palestine protestors in the area.

At a security briefing outside the Times Square substation of the New York Police Department this afternoon, Adams said that the department is currently on high alert due to an incident that occurred at last year's Times Square ball drop ceremony. A teenager from Maine reportedly assaulted three NYPD officers with a machete.

With the support of senior NYPD officials, the mayor made the following statement: "There are no specific threats to the city. However, as we witnessed last year, you don't need a specific threat to get a threat, and we're going to be ready."

Despite the lack of impending violence, pro-Palestine organizations have been organizing New Year's Eve demonstrations in Times Square to denounce Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip, which, according to local officials, has resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 Palestinians, including several children. After a terror assault on October 7 that murdered 1,200 Israelis and held hundreds captive, Israel initiated the military operation. Hamas controls Gaza.

Other pro-Palestine demonstrations in the city in the last few months have attracted 1,000 to 5,000 individuals, according to John Hart, an assistant chief of the intelligence branch of the New York Police Department.

At Sunday's celebration, Hart remarked, "We're prepared for them in any number" in response to the anticipated protests. "We will ensure the safety of this event, and we are ready to accommodate various groups from all over the world."

Clashes between demonstrators and police on Christmas Day led to the arrest of six individuals, all of whom were in favor of Palestine, near the Rockefeller Center, a few streets away from Times Square.

Assistant NYPD Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said that the police would use "the same blueprint" as it did last month when pro-Palestine protesters attempted to disrupt the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting in response to Sunday's rallies in Times Square.

In order to keep an eye out for any possible protests that may arise during the New Year's Eve events, Daughtry said that they will strategically station tow trucks along the route and send drones throughout the perimeter.

While the festivities are underway, authorities have said that thousands of police officers will be stationed around Times Square.

No one from the New York Police Department showed up to Friday's briefing, including Commissioner Edward Caban.

Adams informed the Daily News that Caban has been in the Dominican Republic, but that he would be back in New York on Saturday when they asked him about his whereabouts.

“He was doing numerous deals down there," Adams added.

What exactly does the mayor mean by "agreements?" a spokesman for the mayor declined to clarify. Caban has reportedly been on vacation on the island, according to an NYPD official.

"However, as I've mentioned before, we're in a precarious situation if the Police Department is solely capable of operating when the commissioner is present," Adams warned. Everything is working as it should. It takes more than one person to run the show.

This week, Adams expressed his worry that the New York Police Department's compliance with a September court settlement—which mandates a reduction in the number of officers sent to most public demonstrations and the end of the contentious practice of "kettling"—has hindered the department's ability to respond to recent protests. The BLM demonstrators who sued the NYPD in 2020, claiming the police infringed their First Amendment rights, reached a settlement.

"It seemed to put us on a very troubling direction," Adams said on the deal last Tuesday.

When the department first entered into the settlement, Adams had a very different opinion. He said that it found the correct "balance" between protecting the public and allowing people to freely express themselves via the First Amendment.

Responding to a question on Friday about his shift in position, Adams cited the recent pro-Palestine rallies as evidence that the settlement might be "exploited."

"Some of that exploitation is happening now," he said.

Making a reference to the recent protests on the Brooklyn Bridge, he stated: "When you have 5,000 people deciding to block the bridge and all you can do is issue them a summons, I think it's an encouragement of behavior to be disruptive in the city, and I don't want to ever encourage behavior to be disruptive in the city."


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