On Thursday, the day after a grand jury in New York decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the July 17 chokehold death of unarmed man Eric Garner, dozens of cities throughout the country are readying for solidarity protests.
The grand jury decision comes amid heightened tensions over recent acts of police violence, including the high-profile shooting death of Michael Brown, whose killing sparked months of protests and a new call for attention to institutionalized racism and police brutality.
Also on Thursday, civil rights leaders condemned the controversial "Broken Windows" tactic of policing that led police to confront Garner and called the chokehold a "heinous attack on an unarmed citizen." Garner was targeted for allegedly selling loose cigarettes—an example of the tactic that operates under the belief that stopping petty infractions helps prevent more serious crimes.
The NAACP called for officials to meet the efforts and demands of grassroots organizers.
"America can no longer hide from the reality that we have a true crisis on our hands. The failure to address these fatal incidents and racial bias in policing threatens to erode the remaining trust that African Americans have in our justice system," Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP, said on Thursday. "This is a very serious moment. Young people and grassroots organizers are already showing leadership. We now need a stronger display of leadership at the national, state, and local levels, and across all races, to engage this issue forcefully and without equivocation."
Among the cities where actions will take place are:
- New York City at Foley Square at 5:30pm;
- Washington, D.C., in front of the Justice Department, which has just opened an investigation into Garner's death, at 1:01pm and at 4:00pm;
- Cleveland, Ohio, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot to death by police on November 22, in Public Square at 3:00pm;
- Berkeley, California at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza at 12:00pm to call for "immediate end to the war on black people';
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at New Vision Methodist Church at 6:30pm;
- Dallas, Texas at the Dallas Police Department at 7:30pm;
- Chicago, Illinois at State and Jackson at 5:00pm;
- Seattle, Washington at 4th and Pine at 6:00pm;
- Detroit, Michigan at Campus Maritius Park at 12:03pm;
- Baltimore, Maryland at McKeldin Square at 5:00pm;
- Boston, Massachusetts in Boston Common at 7:00pm;
- Portland, Oregon at the Justice Center at 6:00pm;
Additional actions can be found at http://fergusonresponse.tumblr.com/.
The confrontation that led to Garner's death was captured on film by bystander and friend of Garner, Ramsey Orta. In the video, as Garner pleads with the seven police officers surrounding him shortly before the assault, he says, "Every time you see me you want to mess with me... It stops today."
That statement, along with Garner's last words—"I can't breathe"—have become some of the trademark calls of the protests that erupted Wednesday night in New York, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere shortly after the grand jury decision was announced.
On Twitter, the actions are being tracked with the hashtag #ThisStopsToday.