The NYPD was prepared for heavier protests on Thursday night, and New Yorkers, frustrated by Wednesday’s failure to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, delivered. Gathering in Union and Foley Squares around 5:30 PM, thousands of people swarmed the city, eventually spilling into roadways and blocking traffic on essentially every major thoroughfare in the city. Throughout the night, traffic on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the West Side Highway, the Lincoln Tunnel, Times Square, Canal Street, and even around Barclay’s Center, reached a standstill as protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” “Justice! Now!” and “Black Lives Matter!” The protests went late into the night, and DNAinfo reports that 223 people were arrested — nearly triple the number of arrests made on Wednesday.
The New York Daily News reports, however, that “for the most part police showed restaint [sic] and there were no reports of violence from protesters.” Police cleared the Brooklyn Bridge of traffic as a group of protesters marched across it. There, they were led by Constance Malcolm, the mother of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was shot to death by a cop inside his home in 2012. The group held coffins, some bearing the names of victims of police brutality, and marched all the way to Barclay’s Center to stage a “die-in.” In Midtown’s Herald Square, a group of around 500 held a sit-in in silent protest.
However, by the end of the night, DNAinfo reports,”arrests became more frequent” and “at times police appeared to be arresting marchers at random.” On the Manhattan Bridge, cops seized a group staging a sit-in. Numerous arrests were reported at 42nd Street — at least six — where people chanted “NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today.” The Daily News reports that “just before midnight, cops in riot gear formed a human chain in an attempt to clear 42nd St.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged for peace, but has also supported the protests and acknowledged the legacy of racism in American institutions. “All these things are happening right now because the people demanded it,” he said earlier on Thursday. “Keep demanding it.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez joined the march “for justice.” He told ANIMAL he wants to see “national reform in how the NYPD [and police] nationwide are patrolling our street[s].”
(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)