Fights Erupt During 'Jews for Trump' Rally in Manhattan

Ashley Southall and Dana Rubinstein
·5 min read

NEW YORK — Political tensions over the upcoming presidential election escalated on New York City’s streets Sunday, as supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with counterprotesters during a day of demonstrations.

Eleven people were arrested, police said, during skirmishes between opposing sides in Manhattan, where Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and the city’s former mayor, encountered protesters targeting a caravan of cars organized by a group that identifies itself as Jews for Trump. All have been released except for a 36-year-old man who threw eggs in the faces of two police officers, police said.

In one video, Giuliani could be seen in the passenger side of a vehicle with the window rolled down as anti-Trump protesters screamed at him.

In an interview, Giuliani said that he had encountered the caravan and the protesters while driving down Fifth Avenue after taping his radio show.

“I would love to have had a campaign commercial of it and put it on in the middle of America and say, ‘Who would you prefer for the next four years?” he said. “This group of foul-mouthed people who don’t seem to have a vocabulary beyond three words, or these very nice Jewish people who are driving in the car and not saying anything back and not doing anything other than exercising their right to say they’re for Donald Trump.”

According to the police, the pro-Trump caravan passed through Times Square, where it converged with a group of anti-Trump protesters who had marched from Brooklyn. The cars in the convoy were then blocked by counterprotesters, and some drivers got out of their cars to confront the anti-Trump demonstrators.

The two sides hurled political slurs — calling each other “fascists” and “anarchists”— traded blows, and fought over the Trump supporters’ flags before police broke them apart, according to videos posted online.

In some videos, a group of people can be seen yelling expletives and throwing eggs and other projectiles at passing cars flying pro-Trump flags in midtown, while in another, a group of people holding pro-Trump banners march on one side of the street as people across the street yell, “New York hates you.”

The clashes came as the Police Department was preparing for more possible unrest as Election Day approached, including days or weeks of protests in the aftermath of the vote. Hundreds of police officers have been assigned to polling stations for both early voting and Election Day, with thousands more on standby for protests.

Top police officials have stressed the need for officers to remain neutral, despite their unions’ open embrace of Trump. But officials said an officer crossed the line late Saturday, when he used a police loudspeaker to voice support for the president while arguing with a man on the street in Flatbush, Brooklyn, who called him a “fascist.”

“Trump 2020,” the officer responded. “Put it on YouTube. Put it on Facebook. Trump 2020.”

The officer, whose name the police withheld, was suspended without pay Sunday after videos of the incident went viral on social media. Department policy prohibits officers from engaging in political activity on duty or in uniform, including endorsing a candidate or party.

“One hundred percent unacceptable. Period,” Commissioner Dermot F. Shea commented on one of the videos of the suspended officer on Twitter. “Law Enforcement must remain apolitical, it is essential in our role to serve ALL New Yorkers regardless of any political beliefs. It is essential for New Yorkers to trust their Police.”

The Police Benevolent Association, the officer’s labor union, declined to comment.

It is unclear whether two other officers who were with the suspended officer will face discipline.

His suspension is the beginning of a disciplinary process that can take months or even years to play out. But Mayor Bill de Blasio promised quick action.

“ANY NYPD Officer pushing ANY political agenda while on duty will face consequences,” he wrote on Twitter. “We will act fast here, and this will not be tolerated.”

State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, expressed concern over the incident, noting that police officers transport ballots from poll sites to the Board of Elections.

“There must be swift consequences and protections against election interference,” he said.

Despite the directives from the top, the city’s biggest police unions have heartily embraced Trump, whose law and order message resonates with those who feel Democrats have made the city too soft on crime. Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, endorsed the president in a speech before the Republican National Convention. Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, has appeared at the White House and regularly praises Trump in his official messages to officers.

The demonstrators detained in Times Square on Sunday afternoon, five men and two women, were expected to be charged with disorderly conduct, police said. Investigators were also looking for at least two people seen throwing projectiles at a pro-Trump caravan as it traveled on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

The caravan, organized by Orthodox Jewish leaders, consisted of dozens of cars and trucks whose participants rode from Brooklyn to Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Sunday. Drivers honked their horns and passengers waved American flags.

Correction: Oct. 25, 2020

An earlier version of this article misstated Rudolph W. Giuliani's involvement with a convoy of Trump supporters. He encountered the convoy in Manhattan but was not riding in one of its cars.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2020 The New York Times Company