NEW YORK CITY — Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and leaders in law enforcement echoed something heard from big cities across the country about outside agitators that have allegedly played a part in protests and riots.
“It’s highjacking a cause,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Shea said some of the outsiders are organized, some are not.
He said they are infiltrating the crowd and either doing violence themselves or egging people on. He said the trend is unusual for New York and has been difficult to police in a way that maintains respect for more legitimate protesters.
An estimated one out of seven arrests in New York during the last few days of protest have been people who are in from out of state, according to Counterterrorism Chief John Miller.
“I’ll be plain, for the majority of people coming from out of town, they are primarily white people,” de Blasio said. “Certainly people not from neighborhoods, and going into neighborhoods and doing violence, they happen to be white as well.”
However, unlike other places, like greater-Minneapolis, the “outsiders” do not appear to have direct ties to White Supremacy or other more defined violent ideologies.
“I struggle to categorize anything they’re doing as a political ideology, because it’s not a coherent philosophy, but it does cause destruction,” de Blasio concluded.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams offered a possible different explanation of some of the violence. He said he saw first-hand predominantly-white people trying to get involved, but not understanding the best way to participate.
His advice: “If you are at a protest and looking for a cue as to what to do, look to black women. They are an awesome cue about what we should be doing at this moment in time.”
Local leaders add the reason they believe most of the violent activity, including looting, occurs later in the night is because early in the day, activists, community leaders, and well-meaning protesters have done a good job self policing bad behavior.
Those organizers go home later in the day. This logic may help explain the implementation of an 11 p.m. curfew in NYC.