Police clashed with an unruly mob of protesters in Lower Manhattan Wednesday night as demonstrators created carnage, lighting a fire in the street and one spitting directly in the face of an officer.
The confrontations resulted in the arrests of 20 protesters after a peaceful protest in Washington Square Park took a violent turn once they worked their way through the West Village after 7:30 p.m.
Earlier “Count The Vote” chants were replaced with anti-police sentiments, inexplicable outburst at outdoor diners and the setting of rubbish fires.
First, two people clad in black ignited a Joe Biden campaign sign, leading to a round of applause, before others later taunted patrons at Jeffrey’s Grocery in West Village.
“F–k your dinner,” some chanted as they passed the Waverly Place eatery. Others also chanted, “Burn the precinct to the ground.”
On West 4th Street and Sixth Avenue, protesters set fire to a pile of garbage, which was later put out by police.
About 8 p.m., a clash erupted when the group was met by scores of cops dressed in riot gear at Leroy Street and Seventh Avenue.
It wasn’t immediately clear what led cops to close in, but they were seen forcefully arresting some people and struggling with others during the chaotic encounter.
“Move!” police officers shouted at the group, forcing them off the street, as one protester countered, “what the f–k are you doing?”
“Shame, shame, shame” the group shouted as police collared several people at the intersection.
One woman was arrested after she spat in an officer’s face after screaming, “F–k you, fascist.” The cop, in turn, shoved her to the building and forced her to ground, provoking the ire from other protesters.
“You don’t attack a woman!” one person yelled at the officer.
Moments later, another tense face off between cops and protesters at West 8th Street and Fifth Avenue led to more arrests.
Earlier Wednesday, NYPD Chief of Department Terrance Monahan warned his department would be on the lookout for any agitators trying to exploit otherwise peaceful protests.
“We are going to be on the lookout for anarchists who are trying to hijack these peaceful marches,” Monahan said. “We have also asked the organizers to help us identify these outside people.”
Later Wednesday night, the NYPD acknowledged the arrests in a similarly worded statement.
“We have arrested more than 20 individuals who attempted to hijack a peaceful protest by lighting fires, throwing garbage and eggs in Manhattan,” the department said.
The NYPD added: “We appreciate and value the importance of freedom of speech. Our top priority is and always will be safety.”
Additional reporting by Joe Marino