At around 8:30 p.m. in the West Village, a phalanx of officers moved on a group of several hundred people who had gathered earlier outside the New York Public Library in Midtown before marching to Washington Square Park.
The protesters had briefly shut down traffic in the neighborhood while chanting slogans like “every city, every town, burn the precincts to the ground” as they passed boutique restaurants where patrons were enjoying dinner on an unseasonably warm evening.
Employing the law enforcement tactic known as kettling, the officers pushed protesters out of the street and sought to contain them on sidewalks. At one point, as a few dozen demonstrators walked down an empty side street near the park, police officers on bicycles raced past them and blocked them at the next cross street.
As the protesters banged against signposts and shouted at the police to move, more officers in riot gear joined the fray. Yet another group of police officers, their bright blue and black helmets bobbing beneath the lights from apartments above, approached from behind.
With the protesters surrounded, dozens of officers in riot gear moved in, encircling the group and pushing protesters to the ground as they made arrests.
“Why are you in riot gear, we don’t see no riot here,” protesters who had not been hemmed in screamed.
Smoke, flashing red and blue police lights and the sound of yelling filled the streets as officers, some of them grabbing their targets in rough fashion, tried to break up the crowd. A recorded message that the gathering was unlawfully blocking traffic blared from a speaker.
At least three people were detained for setting trash-can fires, the police said; others were arrested because they had blocked subway entrances, the police said. Still others who were taken into custody had thrown garbage and eggs, the police said.
At least 58 people were arrested in connection with the protests, said a senior law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the cases publicly.
“We appreciate and value the importance of freedom of speech,” the Police Department said in a statement posted on Twitter, adding that those who were arrested had “attempted to hijack a peaceful protest.”
The scene in the West Village contrasted sharply with the near-giddy mood that had carried the protesters along earlier as they called to “defund the police,” have every vote counted and end racial injustice.
As the confrontation unfolded, Chloe Hartstein recorded the arrest of a friend while standing across from a row of officers clad in riot gear.
Ms. Hartstein said that her friend, whom she identified as a member of the activist group Street Riders NYC, had been walking on Sixth Avenue with dozens of other people when officers surrounded the group near Ninth Street and put him in the back of a police van.
“They didn’t give a reason for his arrest,” she said. “They just took him.”
A second confrontation occurred around 9:30 p.m. near Union Square Park and involved a separate group that had marched through the Manhattan streets, flanked at all times by officers on…