In cities and communities across the United States on Thursday night people came out into the street in solidarity protests galvanized by a grand jury decision not to indict the police officers involved in the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City and the larger issue of racial discrimination and police brutality that has come to the fore in recent months.
Following a previous night of spontaneous protests in some cities,a larger number of organized protests and rallies (in pictures) took place in New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Buffalo, and dozens of other big cities. Similar demonstrations took place in mid-sized cities and smaller communities as well.
In Manhattan, several large contingents of protesters roamed through the streets, chanting slogans and carrying signs. As the New York Times reports:
several groups of protesters roamed through Manhattan. They caused lanes to be closed on the Brooklyn Bridge, on the West Side Highway and at the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. The protesters also targeted the Staten Island ferry terminal. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested, but officials did not provide further details.
About 300 people moving north on Broadway toward Times Square lay down at 34th Street for 11 minutes of silence to commemorate the number of times Mr. Garner was heard in a video of his fatal encounter saying he could not breathe. The protesters then moved north and onto Seventh Avenue, where they were involved in a skirmish with police officers blocking the intersection of 42nd Street.
According to the Guardian:
In New York the largest group of protesters, somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000, was far more organized than the previous night. On Wednesday demonstrators had seemed to roam the streets, intermittently splitting apart and converging to shut down traffic on several important highways and bridges around the traffic-heavy island of Manhattan.
In contrast, on Thursday night a coalition of groups led demonstrators. On the Brooklyn Bridge some organizers wore headsets and stopped marchers for photographers. Police had already closed the Brooklyn-bound side of the bridge when protesters crossed and marchers only appeared to break police lines once.
Scenes of protest in cities across the country:
New York City:
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) December 4, 2014
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 5, 2014
— Green Flash (@XeerSaeed) December 5, 2014
— Green Flash (@XeerSaeed) December 5, 2014
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) December 5, 2014
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) December 5, 2014
— David (@TheZOMB) December 4, 2014
— Colin Tom (@ReporterPhoenix) December 5, 2014
— Diana Veiga (@dianaveiga) December 5, 2014
— Lnonblonde (@Lnonblonde) December 5, 2014
— MLive (@MLive) December 4, 2014
— Motor City Muckraker (@MCmuckraker) December 4, 2014
— Kelly Mills (@kcmills) December 4, 2014
— Fibonacci Blue (@FibonacciBlue) December 5, 2014
— Danny Spewak (@DannySpewakWGRZ) December 5, 2014
The protests in other cities proved, as the Associated Press noted in its coverage, that the decision in the Garner case has converged with other cases of police brutality and misconduct to spawn a national debate about race and institutional injustice, issues critics say have largely been ignored despite the historic and pervasive impact they have on community members. AP reports:
Even before the decision in the Eric Garner case came down, racial tensions were running high because of last week's grand jury decision not to charge a white officer in the shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Other cases were added to the mix on Thursday:
— In the tiny South Carolina town of Eutawville, a white former police chief was charged with murder in the 2011 shooting of an unarmed black man. Richards Combs' lawyer accused prosecutors of taking advantage of national outrage toward police to obtain the indictment more than three years after the killing.
— In Cleveland, the U.S. Justice Department and the city reached an agreement to overhaul the police department after federal investigators found that officers use excessive force far too often, causing deep mistrust, especially among blacks. The investigation was prompted chiefly by a 2012 police ar chase that ended in the deaths of two unarmed people in a hail of 137 bullets.
Just last week, protesters took to the streets of Cleveland after a white police officer shot and killed a black 12-year-old boy carrying what turned out to be pellet gun.
On Twitter, the actions were being tracked with the hashtag #ThisStopsToday: