New York City lifting curfew early amid George Floyd protests, de Blasio says

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an early end to New York City’s curfew amid the George Floyd protests after demonstrations remained largely peaceful on Saturday.

In a tweet Sunday morning, de Blasio said the demonstrations the day before "saw the very best of our city."

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"Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart. Keep staying safe. Keep looking out for each other," he added.

The early end to the curfew comes as the city enters Phase 1 of its reopening plan on Monday amid the coronavirus outbreak.

De Blasio had initially insisted that the 8 p.m. curfew would remain in place throughout the weekend.

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Local politicians and civil liberties advocates had been calling for an end to the curfew, complaining that it causes needless friction when officers try to enforce it.

As thousands marched in the city streets and parks Saturday, police held back on enforcing the curfew.

A group of protesters take a knee while marching in lower Manhattan on Saturday. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

A group of protesters take a knee while marching in lower Manhattan on Saturday. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Officers instead took a hands-off approach, monitoring the groups of several hundred protesters continuing to march in Manhattan and Brooklyn more than two hours after the curfew had passed.

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The protests were sparked over the May 25 death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis cop was seen kneeling on his neck in a viral video. In many cities, including New York City, peaceful protests have devolved into riots at night, leading to widespread violence and looting.

There were about 40 arrests citywide Friday — far fewer than previous nights — and no obvious signs of the smash-and-grab stealing that marred protests earlier in the week.

There have been 292 officers injured during the protests since the demonstrations began last week, according to the NYPD.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week walked back his criticism of NYPD police officers for using force to restrain looters and rioters; instead he said the violence against officers is "intolerable." The shift came a day after Cuomo slammed de Blasio and the NYPD for how they've handled the ongoing violence in the wake of Floyd's death.

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"There is no tolerance for violence against a police officer, period," Cuomo said at a press conference Thursday. "They're trying to keep themselves safe because the police want to go home to their families."

Elsewhere, Philadelphia announced there would be no curfew or traffic restrictions in place Sunday. The city advised citizens to wear masks and keep their distance from others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.