Thousands march in NYC as curfew ends and peace prevails

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Protesters rally near the edge of Times Square in New York, Sunday, June 7, 2020. New York City lifted the curfew spurred by protests against the death of George Floyd and police brutality ahead of schedule Sunday after a peaceful night, free of the clashes or ransacking of stores that rocked the city days earlier. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK – Thousands of people marched through New York City's streets again Sunday to protest racism and police brutality, but after a peaceful weekend the city appeared ready to begin a march back toward normalcy after three months of quarantines and nearly two weeks of civil unrest.

Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted the city’s 8 p.m. curfew ahead of schedule after several days free of the clashes or ransacking of stores that rocked the city days earlier.

Some of the marches Sunday took on a celebratory feel and tensions between demonstrators and police were noticeably eased.

As hundred of protesters stood chanting in front of police officers outside Brooklyn's Barclays Center as night fell, officers looked on, standing relaxed and without riot helmets that were standard-issue earlier in the week.

Some officers a few blocks away were even smoking cigars. Others posed for photos with vest-wearing bikers. At one point, police moved barricades so protesters could approach the Trump International Hotel and Tower in midtown Manhattan.

“I want to thank everybody who has expressed their views peacefully," de Blasio said Sunday morning. “I made the decision to end the curfew. And honestly, I hope it’s the last time we will ever need a curfew in New York City.”

The curfew, New York's first in decades, had been set to remain in effect through early Monday morning, with officials planning to lift it at the same time the city enters the first phase of reopening after nearly three months of shutdowns because of the coronavirus.

The move to end it early followed New York City police pulling back on enforcing the curfew Saturday as thousands took to the streets for another day of marches and rallies sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.