December 5, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The outrage over a grand jury's decision not to indict a New York police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man showed no sign of abating on Friday, as activists promised a fresh round of protests.
The city was also preparing for the funeral Friday of an unarmed black man who was shot dead by a police officer last month in a dark stairwell in Brooklyn. Police say the shooting was unintentional.
The city has seen two nights of largely peaceful demonstrations after no charges were brought against New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the chokehold confrontation in July that killed Eric Garner, a father of six. A bystander recorded the incident on video.
The 43-year-old Garner's death has spurred widespread public indignation over what civil rights activists say is a pattern of police abuse of minority citizens, and follows a grand jury's decision less than two weeks ago to clear another white policeman for killing an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.
Thousands rallied in cities across the United States on Thursday, including Boston, Chicago and Washington. In Phoenix, Arizona, demonstrators protested the police killing Thursday of an unarmed black man during a scuffle.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department will pursue civil rights investigations into both the Missouri shooting and the New York case, though legal experts have said federal charges for the two officers are unlikely.
Reverend Al Sharpton, a longtime civil rights leader, was expected to speak Friday at the Brooklyn funeral of Akai Gurley, 28, who was killed last month in a housing project stairwell by a rookie police officer who said his gun discharged accidentally.
Planned events in New York on Friday include a candlelight vigil for Garner in Staten Island, where he died.
New York police have tried to take a soft approach during this week's protests, steering marchers away from a nationally televised Christmas tree lighting ceremony Wednesday, but otherwise allowing marchers to proceed unhindered.
Tensions briefly erupted late Thursday in Times Square as a multiracial crowd of about 3,000 protesters blocked a major interaction, chanting at police, "Who do you protect?"
Hundreds of officers responded, shoving protesters onto sidewalks. A police spokesman said Friday more than 200 protesters had been arrested, but declined to provide additional details.
The National Lawyers Guild is providing legal representation for arrested protesters and training sessions for groups that request it, said attorney Martin Stolar, a member of the group.
In a sign of national concern about the issue, U.S. President Barack Obama has tapped Philadelphia's top cop to recommend ways to rebuild public trust in police.
"There is a tension, there are real issues," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said in an interview. "They feel that the police service they are getting is not fair and not impartial. They lost faith in us to a large extent, and we've got to restore that."
Unlike the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri, Garner's encounter with New York police was captured on video. It showed Pantaleo wrapping his arm around Garner's throat and wrestling him to the sidewalk as three other officers helped subdue him.
Garner, who was asthmatic, repeatedly gasped, "I can't breathe" - a phrase protesters have taken up as a rallying cry.
He was being arrested for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally.
Pantaleo could still face disciplinary action from an internal police investigation, his lawyer said. Chokeholds are 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. - Yahoo.
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Protesters Close Thoroughfares, Clash With Police To Decry Eric Garner Grand Jury DecisionDemonstrators took to the streets all around Manhattan, clashing with police officers, in a the second night of protests a day after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.
When the protests began early Thursday evening, a crowd of a few hundreds morphed into an estimated 10,000 protesters in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan.
“Everybody’s got these posters that say black lives matter, but it doesn’t seem as if it does,” said protester Martha Fay.
In Foley Square, the protesters rallied around a sculpture called “Triumph of the Human Spirit” by artist Lorenzo Pace, which serves as a monument to the African-American experience.
“We’re out here exercising our rights and everything is peaceful. There’s no violence. There’s no drugs. There’s no anything,” said protester John Dorsey. “Everybody is here together – black, white, brown everybody.”
The protesters moved on in several directions afterward. One group headed to the West Side Highway near West 10th Street, shutting down the highway for the second night in a row; it was reopened around 9 p.m.
Tensions rose during rush hours, as commuters on the West Side Highway yelled at the protesters to go away.
Another group marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, which police shut down completely afterward.
“Shut it down,” could be heard being chanted enthusiastically by the group crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into downtown Brooklyn. Some protesters chanted “Eric Garner, Michael Brown, shut it down, shut it down,” referring also to the Ferguson, Missouri case in which the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown was not indicted.
Some protesters also carried makeshift coffins, with the names of those who have died allegedly at the hands of NYPD officers, as they walked along the Brooklyn Bridge.
As Haskell reported, a police car was positioned to block Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn, but the crowd trickled through, walking among the cars.
And at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at Bowling Green, protesters knocked down barricades and a few of them clashed with police. One person was seen punching an officer, while another was seen swinging a sign.
One protester at Bowling Green was seen on Chopper 2 being hauled off by police. There was no official word on arrests as of 9 p.m. Thursday.
Another protest got physical at the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th Street, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
In the reported altercation between the crowd and police, members of the crowd began running away and a few protesters were rubbing their eyes as if in pain, Smith reported. One man alleged he had been pepper sprayed.
Police in riot gear diffused the situation, Smith reported.
Many of the protesters said they were fed up with law enforcement and the justice system.
“This is what I have to teach my son,” said protester Tiffany Garriga. “You get your education and watch you back — not from bullies, but from police.”
Others, such as student Jeenie Yoon, expressed hope that change would happen.
“I think it’s going to take a long time,” she said. “If you think about the Civil Rights Movement, it took 10 years for anything to happen between the protests and the boycott for the buses to the actual Civil Rights Act.”
Protests were also held in Union Square, on other East River bridges, and at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. And the demonstrators continued late into the night, with heated confrontations and several arrests at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue in Times Square just before 11 p.m.
Protesters were still going well after midnight. At 12:15 a.m., they were seen marching between cars down busy 53rd Street in Midtown.
Police said there were numerous arrests, but exact figures would not be available until Friday morning.
Similar protests on behalf of Garner were also held around the country. In Chicago, a handful of protesters briefly got onto the Kennedy Expressway before police officers shooed them off, CBS Chicago reported.
In Boston, protesters gathered on Boston Common for a protest during the annual tree lighting, CBS Boston reported.
Thursday marked the second night that demonstrators took the streets to protest the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with Garner’s death.
On Wednesday, protesters took blocked the West Side Highway, Brooklyn Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel. At Grand Central Terminal, demonstrators laid on the floor in the main hall during rush hour.
Hundreds also converged on Times Square and around Rockefeller Center, where the annual tree lighting ceremony was taking place. The grand jury’s decision also sparked protests around the country.
“This fight ain’t over. It just begun,” said Garner’s widow, Esaw.
While most of the protests in New York City were peaceful, police said 83 people were arrested, mostly for disorderly conduct.
De Blasio said police planned to use a similar strategy to handling protests Thursday night.
“We respect the right of protests, but we will keep order,” the mayor said. “It’s a very straightforward formula. This department has an extraordinary tradition of respecting the right of people to speak, but also drawing a line when that might create disorder or violence.” - CBS New York.
WATCH: Die-ins & Coffins - Massive rallies grasp New York protesting Eric Garner case verdict.
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