Thousands protest in NY city

August 25, 2014

Chokehold Death Of A Black Man By Police
Thousands protest in NY city
Several thousand people demonstrated on New York’s Staten Island Saturday to protest the death of a black man placed in a chokehold by the police. Eric Garner, 43, a father of six who was suspected of illegally selling cigarettes, was wrestled to the ground by several white police officers after resisting arrest on July 17. An amateur video showed the police subduing him with a chokehold. Garner, who was obese and asthmatic and repeatedly complained he could not breathe, lost consciousness and was pronounced dead of a heart attack after being transferred to hospital.
Classified as a homicide by the New York medical examiner’s office, his death set off intense reactions and several protests in New York reminiscent of those in Ferguson, Missouri, over the August 9 police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘no justice, no peace,’ chanted the demonstrators, who converged on Staten Island, one of five New York City boroughs, by bus and ferry.
Some held banners saying ‘Black lives matter’ while others demanded justice for both Garner and Brown as a large police presence looked on.
A few shops closed for the day, fearing the protest could flare up into violence, as was the case in Ferguson earlier this week.
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who led the march, had repeatedly insisted that unrest would not be tolerated.
‘We will prevail,’ the black reverend told the crowd as he was accompanied by Garner’s widow and several of his children. ‘They will not cry alone.’
Erica Garner thanked the protesters for coming out.
‘My father is very proud now,’ she said.
Demonstrators demanded that Daniel Pantaleo, the arresting police officer, be prosecuted, while others shouted ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’— the signature slogan of Ferguson demonstrators.
Pantaleo was suspended after the incident.
Protesters, some with entire families in tow, peacefully filed from the place where Garner was pinned to the ground to the Staten Island prosecutor’s office.
Sharpton and Garner’s family have called for a federal investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, a diverse group of protesters, many of them children, marched peacefully Saturday as calm prevailed for a fourth straight day in the St Louis suburb where an unarmed black 18-year-old was shot by a white police officer, setting off more than a week of unrest, AP reported.
Several community activists walked side-by-side with police officers in uniform down one of the streets in Ferguson that had been filled with armoured vehicles and officers in riot gear less than a week ago.
‘I think some of the frustration is dying down because more information is coming out,’ said Alana Ramey, 25, a St Louis resident who joined the march.
By late Saturday, just a few dozen peaceful protesters remained, with an even more sparse police presence along the three-block stretch of West Florissant Avenue that had been the site of the heaviest unrest. Unlike other nights, the street remained open to traffic.
A St Louis county police spokesman reported one arrest for destruction of property, though an Associated Press reporter observed a second arrest.
The protesters included a dozen students and recent graduates of Harvard University who arrived in Ferguson after a 20-hour drive. The Harvard contingent chatted amicably with Missouri highway patrol captain Ron Johnson, who commended their passion.
‘When we go back to our communities, there’s a Ferguson near us,’ said the Rev Willie Bodrick II, 26, a youth minister and recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School.
The images of well-armed suburban police officers confronting protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets after the Augusrt 9 shooting of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson prompted widespread criticism of how local law enforcement agencies have used federal grants to obtain military gear from the Pentagon.
The Brown and Garner deaths have sparked debate about US police tactics, particularly when it comes to dealing with African Americans.

-Input from New Age

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