Marchers again swarm New York to protest death at hands of police
People swarmed the streets of New York and other cities for a second night to protest a grand jury`s decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man.
New York: People swarmed the streets of New York and other cities for a second night to protest a grand jury`s decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man.
The wave of protests began after no charges were brought against Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in a confrontation that killed Eric Garner. A bystander caught the incident on a video that has been shown repeatedly.
The reaction echoes the outrage after a grand jury also declined to indict a white policeman for killing an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. US Attorney General Eric Holder has mounted a civil rights review of the Missouri shooting and promised a full investigation of the New York case.
The protests began during at the evening rush hour, with demonstrators weaving between cars and trucks and bringing traffic on city streets to a near-standstill. The marches picked up recruits along the way, shifted directions, splintered and regrouped, but remained relatively peaceful for a second night.
Tensions came as at least 3,000 protesters converged in Times Square about an hour before midnight. Blocking the major interaction of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, they chanted at police, "Who do you protect?" Soon hundreds of officers shoved them on to sidewalks. Dozens were detained, although police declined to provide exact tallies.
Earlier, protesters in lower Manhattan staged sporadic sit-ins at intersections before police in riot gear warned them to move on or face arrest. Most complied.
Sharon Gordon, 52, of Matawan, New Jersey, said she hoped politicians would take heed. "There`s been a confluence of social media and outrage," she said. "I do believe for the first time we`re about to make a change."
Waves of marchers also blocked traffic on two bridges between Manhattan and Brooklyn, then converged on the Staten Island ferry terminal at Manhattan`s southern. The main group headed west and temporarily shut the West Side Highway, resulting in at least a handful of arrests, before turning north toward Times Square.
A smaller crowd confronted police with taunts. Chesray Dolpha, 31, yelled at the officers: "We are not violent. We are not touching you. What are you doing with that baton, brother?" The police made eye contact but did not reply.
Elsewhere, hundreds also demonstrated in Washington D.C., chanting, "No justice, no peace, no racist police," as they passed the Justice Department, neared the White House and headed to the Washington Monument. Protesters staged a "die-in" there, sprawling on the roadway to block traffic.
Protesters also blocked traffic on Interstate 35W in Minneapolis and on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Other demonstrations prompted officials to close two Bay Area Rapid Transit stops in Oakland, California, and re-route bus traffic around part of San Francisco`s Market Street.
Chokeholds and retraining
Unlike the August 09 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri, Garner`s encounter with New York police was captured on video by a bystander`s mobile phone. It showed Pantaleo wrapping his arm around Garner`s throat and wrestling him to the sidewalk as three other officers help subdue him.
Garner repeatedly gasped, "I can`t breathe" - a phrase protesters have taken up a rallying cry.
He was being arrested for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally in Staten Island in July.
Pantaleo could still face disciplinary action from an internal police investigation, his lawyer said. That investigation is likely to focus on whether Pantaleo used a chokehold, which is banned by police department regulations
Pantaleo told the grand jury he used a proper takedown technique and never put pressure on Garner`s neck, according to his lawyer, Stuart London. The city`s medical examiner has said Garner`s death was caused by compressing his neck and chest, with his asthma and obesity contributing.
Although chokeholds are officially prohibited, the police patrol guide is vague about whether they are permitted under certain circumstances, said Maria Haberfeld, who heads the law and criminal justice department at John Jay College.
That gray area, she said, may have influenced the grand jury and could be a factor in the departmental probe.