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NYPD cops clash with protesters as they attempt to clear Occupy City Hall

NYPD cops clashed with protesters and pepper sprayed them on Wednesday morning in a tense early morning standoff outside City Hall where hundreds have now been gathering for more than a week demanding that the police force be defunded.  

Between 5.30am and 7.30am, officers cleared barricades surrounding ‘Abolition Park’ – the name the protesters have given to their camp – and tried to push back protesters who spilled over from the park and onto the street. 

The protesters had set up barricades on Chambers Street and Center Street to try to expand their ‘cop free’ zone but police removed them not long after the sun came up to allow traffic to pass through the area again.    

Three people were arrested before the situation calmed down again.

The park continues to be occupied with protesters in tents and there are dozens of cops in riot gear surrounding it. It is unclear how long the protesters will be allowed to stay there. 

An NYPD spokesman told DailyMail.com on Thursday that the protesters are allowed to remain in the park at present but that the situation was being constantly evaluated. 

The protesters are outraged that the NYPD has only been stripped of $1billion and not more, saying it needs to be entirely defunded or more heavily penalized.  

The cut, which comes amid a $9billion shortfall in city revenues due to coronavirus lockdown, will cancel the recruitment of 1,163 new officers, strip $484million from the overtime budget and transfer $354million to other services – including handing control of school safety officers from the NYPD to the Department of Education.

Democrats and protesters are unsatisfied with the cut and say more needs to be done. Among them is Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a representative for parts of the Bronx and Queens, who said the policing cut amounts to ‘funny math’.  

Police union chiefs, however, are warning that it could have a dangerous effect on officers’ ability to keep the city safe.  

NYPD cops face off against protesters on Chambers Street outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. The protesters have occupied the park next to City Hall for more than a week now and are demanding that the NYPD have more of its $6billion budget cut. $1bn has been taken off already but they say it's not enough

NYPD cops face off against protesters on Chambers Street outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. The protesters have occupied the park next to City Hall for more than a week now and are demanding that the NYPD have more of its $6billion budget cut. $1bn has been taken off already but they say it’s not enough

Hundreds of protesters have occupied the park and are refusing to disperse. On Wednesday morning, they huddled beneath umbrellas and chanted 'hold your ground' as the cops tried to move them back into the park

Hundreds of protesters have occupied the park and are refusing to disperse. On Wednesday morning, they huddled beneath umbrellas and chanted 'hold your ground' as the cops tried to move them back into the park

Hundreds of protesters have occupied the park and are refusing to disperse. On Wednesday morning, they huddled beneath umbrellas and chanted ‘hold your ground’ as the cops tried to move them back into the park

The cops removed the barricades the protesters had set up to push them back into the park and off of the street

The cops removed the barricades the protesters had set up to push them back into the park and off of the street

The cops removed the barricades the protesters had set up to push them back into the park and off of the street

Some of the cops used batons to try to push crowds back. They responded by hitting the officers with their umbrellas

Some of the cops used batons to try to push crowds back. They responded by hitting the officers with their umbrellas

Some of the cops used batons to try to push crowds back. They responded by hitting the officers with their umbrellas

The protesters linked arms to stand their ground. They were eventually slowly pushed off of the street

The protesters linked arms to stand their ground. They were eventually slowly pushed off of the street

The protesters linked arms to stand their ground. They were eventually slowly pushed off of the street

Three people were arrested on Wednesday morning. It's unclear why, but cops were seen trying to drag this man from the crowd. He was protected by the other protesters who held on to him

Three people were arrested on Wednesday morning. It's unclear why, but cops were seen trying to drag this man from the crowd. He was protected by the other protesters who held on to him

Three people were arrested on Wednesday morning. It’s unclear why, but cops were seen trying to drag this man from the crowd. He was protected by the other protesters who held on to him 

Another of the men who were arrested on Wednesday morning at the City Hall protest camp

Another of the men who were arrested on Wednesday morning at the City Hall protest camp

Another of the men who were arrested on Wednesday morning at the City Hall protest camp

It is unclear why the man was arrested or whether or not he was injured

It is unclear why the man was arrested or whether or not he was injured

It is unclear why the man was arrested or whether or not he was injured 

NYPD cops dismantle barricades surrounding the Occupy City Hall protest camp on Wednesday morning

NYPD cops dismantle barricades surrounding the Occupy City Hall protest camp on Wednesday morning

NYPD cops dismantle barricades surrounding the Occupy City Hall protest camp on Wednesday morning

The cops pushed some of the protesters back violently as they tried to clear the street for traffic

The cops pushed some of the protesters back violently as they tried to clear the street for traffic

The cops pushed some of the protesters back violently as they tried to clear the street for traffic

Combined with de Blasio’s lenient bail reform that puts more criminals on the street than before, and a court system that has been back-logged for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they say crime is inevitably on the rise and that slashing the budget is not necessarily the right move.

There are also ongoing complaints that the NYPD is not cracking down on low-level crime like people breaching social distancing rules while dining outdoors, drinking in the street or being generally anti-social.

In Brooklyn, residents have been terrorized for nights on end by illegal fireworks being set off through the night, seemingly with little intervention from the cops

The city’s income took a $9billion hit when businesses shuttered at the start of the pandemic and now many remain closed.

Traffic levels in the city aren’t predicted to return to their 2019 normal until November.

Restaurant and retail traffic in New York City is currently 43.6 percent of the 2019 normal, whereas national traffic is at 53.2 percent of normal. Foot traffic from late-May to late-June in New York City increased roughly 18.3 percent, compared to the national increase of 27.7 percent, according to Zenreach data. 

Earlier in the morning, protesters stood atop a barricade with 'abolish police' signs taped to it

Earlier in the morning, protesters stood atop a barricade with 'abolish police' signs taped to it

Earlier in the morning, protesters stood atop a barricade with ‘abolish police’ signs taped to it

The protesters had set up barricades on Center Street to try to expand their autonomous zone

The protesters had set up barricades on Center Street to try to expand their autonomous zone

The protesters had set up barricades on Center Street to try to expand their autonomous zone 

The front of the Surrogate Courts building has now been defaced with graffiti

The front of the Surrogate Courts building has now been defaced with graffiti

The front of the Surrogate Courts building has now been defaced with graffiti 

Protesters set up a barricade at the cross section of Chambers and Center street to try to keep police out

Protesters set up a barricade at the cross section of Chambers and Center street to try to keep police out

Protesters set up a barricade at the cross section of Chambers and Center street to try to keep police out 

The officers removed the barricades first thing on Wednesday morning to allow traffic to pass through again

The officers removed the barricades first thing on Wednesday morning to allow traffic to pass through again

The officers removed the barricades first thing on Wednesday morning to allow traffic to pass through again 

An NYPD officer holds her shield up in a line of other cops in riot gear for another day of crowd control at City Hall

An NYPD officer holds her shield up in a line of other cops in riot gear for another day of crowd control at City Hall

An NYPD officer holds her shield up in a line of other cops in riot gear for another day of crowd control at City Hall 

The protesters linked arms to defend themselves from the police. Many wore shields or masks to protect themselves and others from coronavirus

The protesters linked arms to defend themselves from the police. Many wore shields or masks to protect themselves and others from coronavirus

The protesters linked arms to defend themselves from the police. Many wore shields or masks to protect themselves and others from coronavirus

A protester with a megaphone on Wednesday morning spoke calmly to the cops and asked them if they'd eaten breakfast

A protester with a megaphone on Wednesday morning spoke calmly to the cops and asked them if they'd eaten breakfast

A protester with a megaphone on Wednesday morning spoke calmly to the cops and asked them if they’d eaten breakfast 

A different protester lay face down in the street. It's unclear if they were one of the three people later arrested

A different protester lay face down in the street. It's unclear if they were one of the three people later arrested

A different protester lay face down in the street. It’s unclear if they were one of the three people later arrested

The protester was distraught as they got off the ground and screamed while the officers stood behind them

The protester was distraught as they got off the ground and screamed while the officers stood behind them

The protester was distraught as they got off the ground and screamed while the officers stood behind them

Protesters link arms at the City Hall park protest on Wednesday morning

Protesters link arms at the City Hall park protest on Wednesday morning

Protesters link arms at the City Hall park protest on Wednesday morning 

Protesters hold a Black Lives Matter sign on Wednesday morning

Protesters hold a Black Lives Matter sign on Wednesday morning

Protesters hold a Black Lives Matter sign on Wednesday morning 

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Tuesday that he understood every department must face cuts but that the decision had also been heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement and that it was ‘punitive’.

He insisted that his officers ‘are not going to allow mob rule

‘We’re all going to have to make cuts, we understand that, when you look at the fiscal crisis with COVID.

‘What concerns me is cuts that have to be made because of tough fiscal decisions vs cuts that could appear to be punitive.

‘We’ll review all the numbers… it’s concern. It’s going to impact our ability, I believe, to keep New Yorkers safe in some way, shape or form.

‘But we’re also managers and it’s my job to make the most of the resources that we do have.

‘I don’t think anyone listening thinks that this is the climate right now doesn’t have an impact on what’s going on with the budget.

‘I think that’s self-evident.

‘It’s my job to make sure it doesn’t but we have to also take a look at what’s going on, cutting head count at a time of rising crime is going to be an extreme challenge for the men and women of this department,’ he said.

Commissioner Shea went on to say that slashing the budget would harm communities of color the most because that is where there is most violence.

Unrest continues: Protesters chanted slogans during a protest to defund the NYPD in a place they are calling the 'City Hall Autonomous Zone', ahead of Tuesday's vote

Unrest continues: Protesters chanted slogans during a protest to defund the NYPD in a place they are calling the 'City Hall Autonomous Zone', ahead of Tuesday's vote

Unrest continues: Protesters chanted slogans during a protest to defund the NYPD in a place they are calling the ‘City Hall Autonomous Zone’, ahead of Tuesday’s vote

The vote comes  following weeks of protests and fraught negotiations with Mayor Bill de Blasio as New York City grapples with a $9billion revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic

The vote comes  following weeks of protests and fraught negotiations with Mayor Bill de Blasio as New York City grapples with a $9billion revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic

The vote comes  following weeks of protests and fraught negotiations with Mayor Bill de Blasio as New York City grapples with a $9billion revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic

Protesters locked arms outside City Hall on Tuesday as lawmakers debated the city budget on policing amid mounting pressure from its residents

Protesters locked arms outside City Hall on Tuesday as lawmakers debated the city budget on policing amid mounting pressure from its residents

Protesters locked arms outside City Hall on Tuesday as lawmakers debated the city budget on policing amid mounting pressure from its residents 

A protester climbs a statue outside Surrogate's Court near an encampment outside City Hall on Tuesday

A protester climbs a statue outside Surrogate's Court near an encampment outside City Hall on Tuesday

A protester climbs a statue outside Surrogate’s Court near an encampment outside City Hall on Tuesday

Demonstrators block traffic near an area being called the "City Hall Autonomous Zone" that has been established to protest the New York Police Department and in support of "Black Lives Matter"

Demonstrators block traffic near an area being called the "City Hall Autonomous Zone" that has been established to protest the New York Police Department and in support of "Black Lives Matter"

Demonstrators block traffic near an area being called the ‘City Hall Autonomous Zone’ that has been established to protest the New York Police Department and in support of ‘Black Lives Matter’

New York Police Department officers stand guard in riot gear on the grounds of City Hall as demonstrations continue in the ‘City Hall Autonomous Zone’ that has been established to protest their department

Protesters link arms outside New York's City Hall as politicians take a last-minute vote on a budget which aims to strip $1billion from the NYPD

Protesters link arms outside New York's City Hall as politicians take a last-minute vote on a budget which aims to strip $1billion from the NYPD

Protesters link arms outside New York’s City Hall as politicians take a last-minute vote on a budget which aims to strip $1billion from the NYPD

Police officers stand guard outside City Hall in New York as protesters pressure city leaders into defunding their department

Police officers stand guard outside City Hall in New York as protesters pressure city leaders into defunding their department

Police officers stand guard outside City Hall in New York as protesters pressure city leaders into defunding their department

An ambulance drives through demonstrators near of an area being called the "City Hall Autonomous Zone"

An ambulance drives through demonstrators near of an area being called the "City Hall Autonomous Zone"

An ambulance drives through demonstrators near of an area being called the ‘City Hall Autonomous Zone’

‘It’s going to impact our patrol strength, our training, and it’s probably going to impact people of color more than anyone else.

‘We know where the violence occurs in this city,’

‘My job is to make sure we are as efficient as possible, we’re doing everything can to keep New Yorkers safe… we’re going to have to be creative,’ he said.

Over the last week, there has been a ‘significant uptick’ in crime across the city.

Shea said it was down to a combination of bail reform and a back-logged court system.

He questioned why the courts still weren’t operating because of COVID when thousands were being encouraged to protest peacefully against the police. 

Video footage shared on social media showed the moment a violent clash broke out between cops and protesters as officers attempted to control the crowds by pushing them towards the sidewalk with their batons

Video footage shared on social media showed the moment a violent clash broke out between cops and protesters as officers attempted to control the crowds by pushing them towards the sidewalk with their batons

Scenes from Tuesday's protests

Scenes from Tuesday's protests

Chaos: Video footage shared on social media showed the moment a violent clash broke out between cops and protesters as officers attempted to control the crowds by pushing them towards the sidewalk with their batons

Violence breaks out: Some protesters were seen pushing back as cops shoved them with their nightsticks

Violence breaks out: Some protesters were seen pushing back as cops shoved them with their nightsticks

Violence breaks out: Some protesters were seen pushing back as cops shoved them with their nightsticks 

One protester, who is out of frame, is heard firing back at the cops saying they are 'not welcome here' and urging them to leave

One protester, who is out of frame, is heard firing back at the cops saying they are 'not welcome here' and urging them to leave

 One protester, who is out of frame, is heard firing back at the cops saying they are ‘not welcome here’ and urging them to leave

A demonstrator climbs a traffic lamp wearing a shirt that reads 'defund the police' ahead of a city hall vote that stripped $1billion in funding from the NYPD

A demonstrator climbs a traffic lamp wearing a shirt that reads 'defund the police' ahead of a city hall vote that stripped $1billion in funding from the NYPD

A demonstrator climbs a traffic lamp wearing a shirt that reads ‘defund the police’ ahead of a city hall vote that stripped $1billion in funding from the NYPD

Demonstrators stage a sit-in protest on the steps of city hall in New York as they campaign to defund the NYPD

Demonstrators stage a sit-in protest on the steps of city hall in New York as they campaign to defund the NYPD

Demonstrators stage a sit-in protest on the steps of city hall in New York as they campaign to defund the NYPD

Black Lives Matter protestors continue to congregate at City Hall as part of the "Defund NYPD" and "Occupy City Hall" movement in New York

Black Lives Matter protestors continue to congregate at City Hall as part of the "Defund NYPD" and "Occupy City Hall" movement in New York

Black Lives Matter protestors continue to congregate at City Hall as part of the ‘Defund NYPD’ and ‘Occupy City Hall’ movement in New York

Two protesters join hands and raise their fists in the air in a symbol of defiance and solidarity amid defund the police protests

Two protesters join hands and raise their fists in the air in a symbol of defiance and solidarity amid defund the police protests

Two protesters join hands and raise their fists in the air in a symbol of defiance and solidarity amid defund the police protests

Protesters gather outside the New York City Municipal Building near City Hall Park to protest policing

Protesters gather outside the New York City Municipal Building near City Hall Park to protest policing

Protesters gather outside the New York City Municipal Building near City Hall Park to protest policing

People take part in a protest to defund the police in a place they are calling the "City Hall Autonomous Zone" in support of "Black Lives Matter"

People take part in a protest to defund the police in a place they are calling the "City Hall Autonomous Zone" in support of "Black Lives Matter"

People take part in a protest to defund the police in a place they are calling the ‘City Hall Autonomous Zone’ in support of ‘Black Lives Matter’

Protesters have occupied City Hall Park day and night for at least a week calling for the city's police budget to be slashed

Protesters have occupied City Hall Park day and night for at least a week calling for the city's police budget to be slashed

Protesters have occupied City Hall Park day and night for at least a week calling for the city’s police budget to be slashed

Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the PBA, said: ‘Mayor de Basio’s message to New Yorkers today was clear: you will have fewer cops on your streets.

‘Shootings more than doubled again last week.

‘Even right now, the NYPD doesn’t have enough staffing to shift from one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe.

‘We will say it again: the Mayor and the City Council have surrendered the city to lawlessness. Things won’t improve until New Yorkers hold them responsible.’

De Blasio defended the budget and said it would be down to good leadership from police bosses to keep people safe.

He said his focus was on helping young people.

‘Our young people have experienced something we would never have wished on them. We need to uphold them and help them through this moment in history.

‘They’re going to inherit this city… our young people need to be reached. Not policed. We need to figure out how to nurture and support them,’ he said.

On Monday, the George Washington statute in Washington Square Park was defaced by vandals who threw red paint on it. 

The NYPD is now hunting for the suspects who were seen throwing paint balloons at the monument then fleeing. 

President Trump tweeted about the incident and demanded the pair turn themselves in. 

‘We are tracking down the two Anarchists who threw paint on the magnificent George Washington Statue in Manhattan. We have them on tape. 

‘They will be prosecuted and face 10 years in Prison based on the Monuments and Statues Act. Turn yourselves in now!’ Trump said. 

The two suspects who threw paint on the Washington statue in Washington Square Park are now being hunted by police

The two suspects who threw paint on the Washington statue in Washington Square Park are now being hunted by police

The two suspects who threw paint on the Washington statue in Washington Square Park are now being hunted by police 

The vandals were filmed with one other person who was wheeling a Citi Bike - which is digitally tracked - through the park at 3.20am on Monday

The vandals were filmed with one other person who was wheeling a Citi Bike - which is digitally tracked - through the park at 3.20am on Monday

The vandals were filmed with one other person who was wheeling a Citi Bike – which is digitally tracked – through the park at 3.20am on Monday 

Defaced: A statue of George Washington is covered in red paint after being vandalized in Washington Square Park in the early hours of Monday. America's first president owned more than 100 slaves, making him a target of recent anti-racism protests

Defaced: A statue of George Washington is covered in red paint after being vandalized in Washington Square Park in the early hours of Monday. America's first president owned more than 100 slaves, making him a target of recent anti-racism protests

Defaced: A statue of George Washington is covered in red paint after being vandalized in Washington Square Park in the early hours of Monday. America’s first president owned more than 100 slaves, making him a target of recent anti-racism protests

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