Rioters who descended upon New York City overnight and in the past several days in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis are believed to be part of an organized effort, police department officials said Monday.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Monday that the SoHo area of Manhattan "had a significant number of stores broken into" overnight, and the department has seen evidence that organized groups were behind the crimes.
"When you see organized people showing up to protest -- we had individuals again last night showing up with Molotov cocktails, we had an incident where a police car was shot last night in Queens -- when you see incidents like this, turn in a very rapid fashion, there is evidence of an organization at times behind some of these activities," Shea said during an interview on "Fox & Friends." "There is also what you see last night, in terms of looting, people taking an opportunity at the worst time, at a time when we all need to come together."
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SoHo’s pricey luxury stores, such as Chanel, Moncler, Dior and Lululemon were looted Sunday night into Monday morning, and a high-ranking NYPD official has said stores that fall under this wealthy demographic were targeted in planned attacks for specific reasons.
The companies did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
“They prepared to commit property damage and directed people who were following them that this should be done selectively and only in wealthier areas or at high-end stores run by corporate entities,” said John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence, during a conference call with reporters, according to The New York Times.
Miller said the suspected looters were often not from New York, according to the report.
“They instructed group leaders to tell the people following them that this was not meant to be orderly activity,” Miller reportedly added.
It was the fourth night of the protests sparked nationwide by the death of Floyd, a black man who died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck. Hundreds of people rampaged down the sidewalks, smashing into numerous luxury shops to steal merchandise.
One person was shot amid the chaos and was being treated in an ambulance. Small fires burned in the streets, which were covered with glass and garbage. Police appeared overwhelmed and incapable of stopping the destruction.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Bill de Blasio had rejected the idea of a curfew, like those adopted in other major U.S. cities.
Shea said Monday he thought a curfew would be ineffective, telling NBC’s "Today" show, “We could impose a curfew today. The problem is people need to listen to a curfew, and that's not going to happen.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.