Looters in New York City were dropped off in luxury cars with power tools and suitcases before being picked up and driven to next location, according to eyewitnesses.
Police are said to be looking into numerous reports the rioters were organized and are now checking license plate numbers of vehicles that dropped groups off. Some are even said to have used a stolen U-Haul to carry out their crimes.
One witness to the ‘organized looting was Carla Murphy, who lives in Manhattan. She told ABC: ‘Cars would drive up, let off the looters, unload power tools and suitcases and then the cars would drive away.’
Protests were largely peaceful Tuesday and the nation’s streets were calmer than they have been in days since the killing of George Floyd set off sometimes violent demonstrations against police brutality and injustice against African Americans.
But NYPD are still said to be investigating claims those who looted stores were driven to and from spots in Manhattan.
Murphy added: ‘Then the cars would come back pick them up and then drive off to the next spot. They seemed to know exactly where they were going.
‘Some of the people were local, but there were a lot of out-of-towners.’
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that police are ‘up against organized looters’ who are ‘strategically placing caches of bricks & rocks at locations throughout NYC’.
He added: ‘The U-Haul truck, that did happen. We see a number of vehicles to transport stolen property, to scout out locations, to transport people to commit these crimes.’
Local leaders and business owners in Washington, California and Chicago have also suggested the looters were part of organized crime rings there.
Rioters flee the scene in a car after looting a store in Manhattan on Tuesday
A trunk full of Nike trainers after looters raided a Foot Locker store in New York City Momday
Videos from New York City, pictured, Kansas City, Dallas and Fayetteville in North Carolina all appear to show piles of bricks unattended in the middle of protests
Protesters loot a NY Yankee store during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd
Another eyewitness, Jarrod Jordan, told The New York Post: ‘This is a real business. This isn’t angry protesters in any way shape or form. This is organized crime happening really, really well.’
Jordan says he has witnessed Bentleys and Mercedes arriving on the scene to scout out areas to target; the return later with tools and people to loot.
He added: ‘When the looters looted, they filled up the cars and the cars drove so the looters have their hands free to go on to the next place. The looters are just a bunch of young kids recruited to do the boss’ work.’
An NBC producer filmed men pulling up luxury cars before they appeared to ransack stores in Manhattan during a fifth night of rioting after the killing of George Floyd.
Keith Feldman posted a video on Twitter of men getting out of expensive cars, one of which was claimed to be a $500,000 Rolls Royce.
They were then seen running through the smashed-in door of a store in Soho – where outlets have been plundered of designer goods in recent days – and emerging with armfuls of products.
The thefts took place despite an 8pm curfew which was in place in Manhattan.
Feldman wrote above his Tweet: ‘Looters are literally pulling up in nice cars and cleaning out stores in #Soho. What #Curfew?’
Another user then retweeted his video and said: ‘That’s a $500,000 Rolls Royce on the right, incredible.’
George Floyd (left) was accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store after he was laid off in the pandemic. Disturbing video showed him prone on the street, while a white police officer (Derek Chauvin, right) pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck even as he cried he couldn’t breathe
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that police are ‘up against organized looters’ who are ‘strategically placing caches of bricks & rocks at locations throughout NYC’
Shea added: ‘The U-Haul truck, that did happen. We see a number of vehicles to transport stolen property, to scout out locations, to transport people to commit these crimes’
Local leaders in Washington, California and Chicago have also suggested the looters were part of organized crime rings.
Bellevue’s Police Chief Steve Mylett said Monday: ‘There are groups paying these looters money to come in and they’re getting paid by the broken window.’
In Santa Monica, California,restaurant owner Jeffrey Merrihue, told CBS: ‘They were very well organized, they came with duffel bags, SUVs.
‘They went from shop to shop. They went in, cleared out with full duffel bags, another SUV would pull up. It was very impressive actually, to be honest.’
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the looting there was ‘organized and choreographed’.
Keith Feldman posted a video on Twitter of men getting out of expensive cars, one of which was claimed to be a $500,000 Rolls Royce
In the video, two men in hooded tops and masks are seen getting out of a luxury SUV in front of the Rolls Royce, which has its door open
An NBC producer filmed men pulling up luxury cars before they appeared to ransack stores in Manhattan during a fifth night of rioting after the killing of George Floyd
Looters ran over a New York Police Department officer in Greenwich Village trying to stop them driving away after robbing a store
And pallets of bricks have also ‘randomly’ appeared during protests across the US this weekend, sparking theories they were planted to stoke violence.
Those taking part in demonstrations against police brutality and the death of black man George Floyd have reported finding large stashes of the makeshift weapons on streets.
Videos from New York City, Kansas City, Dallas and Fayetteville in North Carolina all appear to show piles of bricks unattended in the middle of protests.
The footage has led to suggestions the slabs were either planted by police or by extremists to overshadow peaceful protests over the death of Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee into his neck for almost nine minutes.
‘Looks like a set up to me,’ tweeted protest supporter ICE T, who has often spoken out against police brutality. ‘There’s ALWAYS more than meets the eye,’ he continued.
In Dallas, Instagram user RuebenGotSoul documented a large pile of bricks stacked up in front of the city’s courthouse. ‘The Dallas protest was a lot of things. But I was very disappointed to see this RANDOM stack of bricks in front of the courthouse. #setup,’ he remarked
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Monday ‘there is evidence of an organization at times behind some of these activities’.
And US Officials had already said they were investigating whether extremist groups have infiltrated police brutality protests.
Authorities are said to be looking into whether these groups deliberately tipped the demonstrations towards violence after chaos erupted in dozens of American cities this weekend.
John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said the NYPD has a ‘high degree of confidence anarchist groups planned violent interactions and vandalism’.
‘Complex network of scouts were in place to direct breakaway groups to commit vandalism with rocks and accelerants,’ he said.
As demonstrations spread from Minneapolis to the White House, New York City and overseas, federal law enforcement officials insisted far-left groups were stoking violence.
Meanwhile, experts who track extremist groups also reported seeing evidence of the far-right at work.
Investigators were also tracking online interference and looking into whether foreign agents were behind the effort.
Officials have seen a surge of social media accounts with fewer than 200 followers created in the last month, a textbook sign of a disinformation effort.
The investigations are an attempt to identify the network of forces behind some of the most widespread outbreak of civil unrest in the U.S. in decades.
Looters broke into Zara near the World Trade Center, Nordstrom Rack on 6th Avenue, fought with Guardian Angels at Foot Locker in the East Village and stores were also targeted in Soho again.
People are arrested for looting in New York City last night as police swooped on people who broke the city’s curfew
A man could be seen running out of Paul & Shark clutching piles of clothing. Smashed glass covered the floor after the storefront was smashed
Looters were seen piling into a Coach store in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on the seventh night of unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd
An earlier curfew and efforts by protesters to contain the violence prevented more widespread damage to businesses in New York City overnight. As of Wednesday morning, arrests grew to more than 9,000 nationwide since the unrest began in response to Floyd’s death May 25 in Minneapolis.
There was a marked quiet compared with the unrest of the past few nights, which included fires and shootings in some cities. Many cities intensified their curfews, with authorities in Washington also ordering people off streets before sundown.
Protests began after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while the handcuffed black man called out that he couldn’t breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder.
Trump, meanwhile, amplified his hard-line calls from Monday, when he threatened to send in the military to restore order if governors didn’t do it.
‘NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD,’ he tweeted. ‘The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!’
The great NYPD round-up: Cops hold 5,000 Brooklyn protesters on Manhattan Bridge and make 280 arrests in no-nonsense crackdown – but Saks takes matters into own hands with private security, guard dogs and RAZOR WIRE to stop looters
The NYPD cracked down on Tuesday night by arresting more than 280 people and blocking 5,000 protesters from entering Manhattan by holding them up on the Manhattan Bridge while enforcing the 8pm curfew.
It remains unclear if all 280 were arrested for breaking the curfew or if other offenses, like looting, were included in that number but it is a drastic reduction from the 700 that were arrested by Tuesday morning after a frightening 48-hour period that saw entire shopping districts in the city ransacked and ruined.
The curfew was brought forward from 11pm to 8pm on Tuesday and has been extended until Monday morning – when New York City begins its phase 1 of reopening after recovering from being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to the chaos that unfolded across Manhattan on Sunday and Monday night and growing criticism over the city’s handling of it.
President Trump was among critics who said the city was ‘totally out of control’ and claimed the National Guard needed to be brought in.
After scrambling to keep up with looters on Monday night, NYPD officers – who all had their leave canceled on Tuesday – were seen arresting protesters for breaking curfew on Tuesday all over Manhattan.
They blocked a huge protest on the Manhattan Bridge, stopping some 5,000 marchers who planned to enter the city from Brooklyn.
After holding the protesters on the bridge for more than two hours in a tense stand-off, the protesters retreated peacefully back into Brooklyn.
Some businesses, still unwilling to put their faith in the NYPD, have hired private security.
5,000 protesters were stopped from entering Manhattan after walking across the Manhattan Bridge on Tuesday night
The NYPD stopped 5,000 protesters from entering Manhattan by blocking them on the Manhattan Bridge on Tuesday night. The protesters retreated after 2 hours
Protesters leave the Manhattan Bridge after being stopped by police last night during an 8pm curfew which thousands ignored but which was followed by less rampant destruction than on previous days in New York City
Young protesters wearing coronavirus masks sit behind their hands behind their backs
Protesters arrested on Tuesday night in Manhattan after breaking the 8pm curfew set by the city to get a handle on the chaos. One man had blood streaming from his head as he had his hands put in wire ties
Saks Fifth Avenue on Wednesday was surrounded by a militia of private, armed guards. They held dogs on leashes and stood in front of plywood walls that had been reinforced with razor wire to protect the luxury department store.
‘Anyone who is out and cannot prove they are there for essential reasons can be detained,’ Mayor de Blasio said on Wednesday morning, warning against anyone who thinks they can flout the curfew.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the situation overnight was a vast improvement on the previous 48 hours.
Trump claimed on Tuesday that the city was ‘totally out of control’. On Wednesday, he said the National Guard was ‘ready’.
Gov. Cuomo was hesitant to call in the Guard as was de Blasio. They both said the NYPD could handle it in a better way.
A woman cries on the ground while sitting with her hands in wire ties after being arrested for breaking curfew on Tuesday night
NYPD officers wait for protesters to block their entry into Manhattan on the Manhattan Bridge on Tuesday night
Dozens of people were seen being taken away in paddy wagons as NYPD cracked down on curfew-violators
On Wednesday, Cuomo said: ‘New York City last night was much better. The police officers had the resources and capacity to do their jobs. The results last night were much, much better than the night before.
‘The people of New York City should feel much better today than they did after the night of looting.’
Ten protests are scheduled to take place across the city between 1pm and 7pm, including one at Gracie Mansion, where de Blasio lives.
The calmer scenes in New York City were echoed across much of America where protesters once again turned out in force but the confrontations with police were subdued and widespread rioting was limited.