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NYPD: More Than 50 People Arrested After Trying To 'Hijack' Peaceful Protests In Midtown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There are charges that nearly 60 people arrested during a raucous Geenwich Village protest were outside agitators who tried to "hijack" a peaceful protest. Demonstrators were demanding every vote in the election be counted.

CBS2's cameras were the only ones there when NYPD brass walked out of City Hall on Thursday after a meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio about the post-election protest in Washington Square Park that turned ugly.

CBS2's Marcia Kramer spoke exclusively with Chief of Department Terence Monahan and learned the top cops told the mayor outside agitators turned the protest into chaos, setting fires and causing mayhem.

"It was a small group of people who wanted to try and hijack a protest. As soon as they left the park they started burning things," Monahan said.

Earlier Thursday, the NYPD stood guard in front of Washington Square Park's monumental arch, which was still closed off after the destruction, which continued Wednesday in the West Village.

Video of the protest showed cops forming a line and using their bikes to confine demonstrators, dragging one protester through the crowd as both sides tussled. Protesters threw items and lit fires, which officers quickly put out.

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Dozens of people are in police custody after the NYPD says they tried to "hijack" peaceful protests in Midtown, Manhattan on Wednesday night. (Credit: @Datainput/Twitter)

Police said 57 people were arrested including one woman who spit in a cop's face. Davina Singh, 24, of Pennsylvania, was charged with obstructing governmental administration and harassment.

"She's been arrested three times, I think, since September in the city for protest activity, one of which was back in Brooklyn on the 27th where fires and windows were broken. This is someone that has just an the intent of causing violence in our city," said Monahan.

Police put out pictures of five people arrested for violent crimes, including assaulting police officers, at the protest.

Police found weapons, including a taser, that appears to have once belonged to an officer and M-80 explosives.

Kramer asked de Blasio what he planned to do about it.

"What's your position on protesters who would do violence in the city," asked Kramer.

"Anyone who does violence, clearly will experience the consequences of it. You cannot do violence without consequences," de Blasio responded.

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Dozens of people are in police custody after the NYPD says they tried to "hijack" peaceful protests in Midtown, Manhattan on Wednesday night. (CBS2)

Police officials told Kramer they are hoping Thursday night will be quiet. Nevertheless, they'll have details at potential hot spots including Washington Square Park, Union Square and Barclay's Center in Brooklyn.

Prior to Wednesday's violence, police escorted demonstrators with "Protect the Results" down Fifth Avenue. Their message was directed toward the president, who wants to stop the count of ballots.

"We want 45 to know that we are not going to stop until all the votes are counted," protester Winsome Pendergrass told CBS2.

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"There are facts and there is libel, and his claims have been false," said Jon Carter.

Many CBS2's John Dias spoke with said violence should never happen and they support the message of the peaceful protesters.

"Let the people make the decision," one woman said.

"To stir up this kind of anxiety and discontent and fear is really terrible for the country," said West Village resident Joel Schuman.

Watch John Dias' Report:

A total of 57 people were arrested for a number of charges, including reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and assault.

It's the unrest the police commissioner and mayor have been trying to avoid.

"What most overwhelming majority of New Yorkers want is just a peaceful approach to this," de Blasio said. "Anyone who does violence clearly will experience the consequence of it."

Police said at least one vacant business was vandalized. No officers were seriously injured.


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