NEW YORK (WABC) — On Friday night, Jewish New Yorkers and allies made their way to Senator Chuck Schumer’s home in Brooklyn as he prepared to travel with a delegation of lawmakers to Israel — demanding he take action for a ceasefire.
At least 57 protesters ages 20-85 were arrested, including Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani, rabbis, and descendants of Holocaust survivors, holding a banner reading ‘Jews Say Stop the Genocide of Palestinians’ and blocking the entryway to Schumer’s street.
Earlier Friday, housands of pro-Palestine demonstrators and counter-protesters rallied in Midtown on Friday afternoon.
Multiple blocks of Times Square were packed with protesters, chanting to the sound of drums and conducted by leaders on megaphones.
As the crowd grew, the situation remained mainly peaceful with all businesses around the area remaining open.
The message was resounding, and according to the protesters, it is never heard loud enough.
“What we are here to say today is that the intention of that genocidal violence is to break the spirit and resistance of the Palestinian people,” said Kaleem Hawa with Palestinian Youth Movement.
Many in the crowds condemned the killing of civilians but they also condemn complicity in what they say has been the slaughter of the Palestinian people for decades. Resistance, they say does not mean terrorism.
“Palestinians first opened their arms to accept the Jewish people when no one else would. They gave them water, food, they gave them their land and then they took over,” said Farah.
Accusations that the U.S. and Israel are a war machine were not received well by counter-protesters who shouted back at the Times Square protest.
Two arrests had been made by 3:30 p.m. after a scuffle at West 35th Street and Sixth Avenue between the two sides.
While the war between Israel and Hamas escalates in the Middle East, tensions have been mounting at home.
The city is stepping up police presence and patrols Friday in what is being called an International Day of Action for Palestine.
NYPD officers are also keeping a close eye out on radical groups and their online chatter, guarding against a lone wolf or sympathizer attack.
“The FBI is aware of the online posts concerning the ‘Global Day of Action’ and that’s why we’re sharing information with our partners and we’re continuing to monitor the situation in Israel and the region to ensure that we’re identifying and disrupting any potential threats,” said FBI New York Special Agent in Charge Nicholas Boshears.
During a press conference Thursday evening, Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul stressed that safety of New Yorkers is of the utmost concern.
“We have directed the NYPD to surge additional resources to schools, houses of worship, to ensure they are safe and that our city remains a place of peace,” Adams said.
Officials say there are no specific credible threats to NYC, but every officer is in uniform as a precaution.
“We’re trying to make sure violence does not manifest on the streets of New York City,” said Rebecca Ulam Weiner, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism.
Additionally, the MTA said there will be increased police presence in major transportation hubs and throughout the transit system on Friday. Not only will riders see more security, they will see more messages asking them to be alert.
“While there is no credible threat and everybody is urging New Yorkers to go about their business, we are very prepared and very much to deploy,” said MTA Chairman Janno Lieber.
Meanwhile NYPD helicopters are sweeping the skies and counterterrorism teams are stepping up patrols in the waters around New York. Large deployments of uniformed officers are hitting the streets in places like Times Square. But many are taking up positions outside synagogues ahead of the traditional Friday Shabbat services.
Hochul said there will be active vigilance across not only the city, but also the state of New York. She said state police have been “fully activated” and the National Guard has been directed to patrol key transportation hubs.
“There’s no reason to feel afraid,” Hochul added.
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