The custodial death of 46-year-old African-American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis last week sparked widespread protests in the US and parts of the world. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, and San Francisco To New York, mayors across the country have ordered people to stay inside, in an attempt to quell the unrest.
The last time that New York City imposed a curfew on its residents was in 1943 when a black US Army soldier, Robert Bandy, was shot by a white NYPD officer. Although white officer James Collins had shot Bandy, the man did not die. However, rumours about Bandy's death prompted a riot directed chiefly by black residents against white-owned property in Harlem.
Collins attempted to arrest an African-American woman on August 1, 1943, for disturbing the peace in Braddock Hotel's lobby. Police said that Bandy interfered in the arrest and tried to grab his nightstick. The officer fired at Bandy in retaliation and hit his shoulder.
In 1943 black Americans were treated as second class citizens in the US military despite their contribution to the war. Riots, that ensued after allegations that a white officer shot a black soldier, lasted for two days. Six people died and hundreds were injured. Nearly 600 people were arrested.
More than attacks on people, however, the riots involved vandalism, theft, and property destruction of white-owned businesses in Harlem. There was huge monetary damage.
Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia was informed of the situation, following which he visited the riot-hit district with black authority figures like Max Yergan and Hope Stevens. Nearly 6,000 city and military police were ordered into the region, 1,500 volunteers were called to help, and 8,000 guardsmen were put "on standby". Hours later, the mayor instructed all taverns to close. That was the last time New York City was under curfew until this week.
Latest in a series of deaths of black Americans at the hands of police in the US, Floyd's death on May 25 has prompted people to break the silence. Concerns over the law enforcement's bias against the African American minority have yet again come to the fore.