MANHATTAN – As Russian tanks stormed across the Belarus border with Ukraine, hundreds of New Yorkers gathered on the Upper East Side to loudly protest the now deadly, unprovoked invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, with demonstrators chanting “Stop the war” within earshot of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
Police officers shut down East 67th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues ahead of the 1:00 pm protest near the Russian Mission — which sits almost directly across from the NYPD’s 19th Precinct station house— corralling hundreds of protesters waving signs and Ukrainian flags behind metal barricades on the west side of Lexington Avenue.
“Stop Russia now! Stop Russia now! Stop Russia now!” the crowd chanted in unison.
The protest drew dozens of onlookers seen perched high above, watching the demonstration unfold from Hunter College skywalks over Lexington Avenue between East 68th and 69th Streets.
Reporters from international news organizations and our local TV stations lined the opposite side, documenting and bearing witness to this movement for peace unfolding thousands of miles from the warfront, but hitting close to home for so many ex-pats who now call NYC home.
“Hands off Ukraine! Hands off Ukraine!” the crowd chanted more as light snow fell Thursday afternoon.
The crowd erupted in cheers as drivers of cars, a USPS mail truck and even an MTA Bus creeping down Lexington Avenue honked their horns to show their support for Ukraine and its people.
The peaceful demonstration then split up— with some protestors filing down the sidewalk towards the United Nations in Midtown, while others made their way north to the Russian Consulate, located in Carnegie Hill on East 91st Street near Fifth Avenue.
Outside the Consulate, a single flag for the Russian Federation hung from the building in the cold February air as many more Ukrainian flags were proudly being waved by protesters gathered on the sidewalk across the street in front of the Spence School.
One demonstrator held a life-size effigy of Putin wearing with a sign hung from its neck reading “MURDERER.”
At one point, when the door to the Russian Consulate opened to let a group of people out, two icy snowballs came flying in from across the street— as the crowd taunted a man at the door who was presumably an employee of the Russian government.
Mayor Eric Adams took to twitter Thursday to denounce the Russian attack on a democratic nation.
“New York City is home to the largest Ukrainian population in America and our city stands with them,” Adams said.
“The unprovoked and unjustified invasion of their homeland is an assault on freedom,” the Mayor added.
Late Thursday afternoon, hundreds more protesters were seen marching up Park Avenue on the way to the Russian Consulate on East 91st Street to continue the day of demonstrations.