Referring to the potential restriction of vehicular and pedestrian traffic as a “freeze,” NYPD spokespeople said that the plans were made without the belief that they would be necessary.
“We have contingency plans in place to freeze areas of Manhattan should wide scale looting occur,” they told Gothamist. “These plans were developed out of an abundance of caution and we do not believe we will have to implement them.”
Though the NYPD did not share details of what parts of Manhattan would be locked down, the School of Visual Arts near Gramercy Park told its students that it falls within one of the potential lockdown zones. They noted the boundaries of a zone that ran from 14th to 23rd Street, stretching as far as 6th Avenue.
The tactic recalls similar moves in response to civil unrest throughout the country this year. Most notably, Chicago closed off its city center by raising bridges along the Chicago River. This prevented people from accessing downtown while also trapping protestors in the urban core.
New York’s Civil Liberties Union has pushed back against the use of freezes, sending a letter to the mayor claiming that they are a tactic used to encourage mass arrest of protesters. The frozen zones have been a common tactic against protesters, used both during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year.