There was quite a tumultuous scene outside of The New York Times headquarters in Manhattan this past Thursday. It was noted that several police vehicles belonging to the New York Police Department (NYPD) were defaced during a protest. Messages in support of Gaza and packing a punch against IDF and KKK were visibly painted on them, causing some concern among onlookers.
A particularly disturbing scene was witnessed when a demonstrator seemingly used a sign to draw a correlation between IDF Tik Tok girls and SS soldiers, alluding to a shared dance in the underworld. There was very little that went unnoticed: a smoke bomb was also detonated next to law enforcement officers who were present to surveil the protest so as to maintain public order.
The protest was not a spontaneous occurrence, but rather, it followed an organized journey, beginning in front of the iconic New York Public Library, located on 42nd street. It was a demonstration of sorts, spearheaded by students participating in a nationwide walkout, eventually making their way to the Times’ building.
Here, the protest took a diversified form. While a select few led a sit-down protest, possibly mirroring the peaceful resistance methods of yesteryears, others engaged in distributing parody newspapers, tongue-in-cheek titled ‘The New York Crimes’, thereby expressing their viewpoint.
Clearly, these protesters were nonplussed in their design, spreading their message far and wide. They didn’t stop at NYPD vehicles or spoof papers – in fact, they went on to etch their words onto the expansive windows of The New York Times building. ‘Blood on your hands’ and ‘Free Palestine’ made for a stark scene, emphasizing their stance.
Yet others moved their protest literally indoors, reciting a list of names – purportedly, a record of lives lost from the war in Gaza, as stated by the Health Ministry there, which is under the administration of Hamas. This solemn exercise brought a somber note to the protest.
The protest was purposeful to the point of notable traffic disruption. At one point, a group of protesters seemed to temporarily impede access to the New York Times building. Meanwhile, inside the lobby, a chorus of nearly 30 voices echoed in unison in chant.
Contrary to what one might perceive from these descriptions, The New York Times’ communication to its staff leaned towards a more peaceful interpretation of the event. Stating via internal email, they reassured their personnel that entrances remained free and the protest was carried out peacefully.
It’s also pertinent to mention that such protests are no longer isolated events but are rippling across the nation in the wake of a chilling terrorist attack that took place in Israel on October 7th, attributed to Hamas. These protests have varied in approach and effect, with some escalating into incidents of violence.
There was one incident that aligned with this pattern, which stirred up quite a commotion outside the Museum of Tolerance. In another alarming instance, a tussle sparked off by a protest led to tragic consequences, with a Jewish man losing his life.
Alongside these protests, New York City has weathered a concerning uptick in hate crimes of a particular nature – antisemitic attacks, to be precise – by over 300%. These troubling occurrences should make us take note and wonder if these are not isolated incidents, but reflective of a broader national increase in instances of antisemitism and hate crimes in recent times.