A small group of people took to the streets of Bay Ridge on Sunday night to protest the death of George Floyd.
There was confusion on social media about a protest that was to take place at 8 p.m. outside a department store on 86th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. Some stores even boarded up their windows to fend off looting.
“Some astroturf agitators spent Sunday trying to scare folks with explicit promises of looting and violence once the sun went down on 86th Street,” wrote Councilmember Justin Brannan. “Their plan was thwarted by 30-40 fired up young folks who protested peacefully as neighbors cheered from their fire escapes and honked their horns in support.”
Non-profit organization Bay Ridge Cares took to Facebook to confirm that they were not affiliated with any protests, even though posts misled people to believe they were.
“There is FALSE information being circulated on social media platforms that Bay Ridge Cares is organizing a peaceful protest for Mr. George Floyd,” the statement read. “We have initiated actions to have these FALSE posts removed from social media. Bay Ridge Cares has no affiliation with ANY planned protests and we are terribly dismayed and disappointed that anyone would try to impersonate our organization.”
Fight Back Bay Ridge also dispelled rumors that it had any part in planning the event.
“There appears to be an astroturfed protest for George Floyd that’s been called in #BayRidge tonight,” the group wrote on Twitter. “The org that was said to be behind the protest didn’t plan it; someone is using their name. We don’t believe this action is authentic and encourage people to not attend.
“If you’re looking to join #GeorgeFloyd protests, please make sure you’re finding ones that are planned by affected communities, and check who is behind organizing them. Don’t let your anger and outrage be used by bad actors looking to disrupt what’s important. Again, we encourage that nobody attend the #BayRidge protest for #GeorgeFlyod tonight UNLESS you’re planning to document who is there (stay away from the crowd, if there is one).”
Brannan also discussed the possible true motives of those who created the post.
“The instigators who started spreading these rumors probably wanted a riot, and to further divide our neighborhood,” he wrote. “Instead, folks showed up in earnest to mourn the death of George Floyd. They marched and chanted and took a knee. They remained peaceful the whole time and at one point were actually chanting ‘peaceful protest!’ just to make their intentions clear.”
State Senator Andrew Gounardes was on the scene and kept locals abreast via social media.
“I left 86th Street at 8:45PM,” he wrote. “At roughly 9:00 PM, approximately 40 young people gathered by Century 21 and began chanting and marching around the block. They since moved on and are walking the neighborhood. I am back on the scene and just spoke with Capt. Conwell of the 68th Pct and he said that everything is orderly and peaceful.”
“I understand that everyone is on edge because of the last few days. Please be smart about sharing unconfirmed rumors and unsubstantiated posts. Follow your local precincts on Facebook or Twitter, or check back here for new information.”