Cops Pull Shotguns On Protesters Armed With Cardboard Signs

March 2, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

On Friday night, a group of Black Lives Matter protesters held signs and a banner as they linked arms across an exit from the Lincoln Tunnel, blocking traffic from the Manhattan-bound lanes for 11 minutes. That’s one minute for every time Eric Garner gasped “I can’t breathe” as Officer Daniel Pantaleo kept the unarmed man, who later died, in a prohibited chokehold. Then Port Authority Police came at the peaceful protesters with guns cocked, witnesses say.

“We were quickly approached by the Port Authority Police, but before speaking with us, let alone giving us any order to disperse, they drew guns on us,” said New York activist Keegan Stephan in an email to ANIMAL. On his blog, he wrote that the police “literally ran at us with guns drawn – large, paramilitary guns.”

Officers can be seen approaching the group at 3:00 in the video above. One officer can be seen cocking and loading his gun. Another protester, Kim Ortiz, recalled the incident to Gothamist:

“We mic-check that we’re gonna be there for 11 minutes,” says Kim Ortiz, one of the organizers of the protest. “And then we hear the officer rack the gun. We were like, ‘We’re armed with a banner and cardboard signs!’ He was like, ‘Are you scared, are you scared?’ And we were like ‘No, we’re not scared.’”

Stephan wrote later that several members were, in fact, intimidated, but the group “refused to be moved by [the officers’] demands.”

“We stayed until the group felt we had stayed as long as we wanted – long enough to be successful, but not too long as to break the organic flow of the action and evening,” he wrote. The group, which had first gathered at Penn Station before moving to the tunnel, later marched to 42nd St & 8th Ave where they again stopped traffic. They passed through Times Square and then returned to Penn Station before dispersing.

The Inspector General for the Port Authority police did not respond to ANIMAL for comment.

(Photo: @AshAgony)