More than 200 people angered by a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson sought to disrupt Black Friday shopping in New York with a protest in front of Macy’s flagship store.
A small group of the protesters took their rally to the Manhattan department store’s ground floor for a few minutes, as staff and shoppers seeking post-Thanksgiving bargains looked on in apparent surprise. Some shoppers took pictures of the protests with their cellphones.
Many protesters said they were encouraging a boycott of Black Friday to highlight the purchasing power of black Americans and to draw links between economic inequality and racial inequality.
“Voicing your opinion is not enough,” said Sergio Uzurin, one of the protesters. “You have to disrupt business as usual for this to happen and that’s the only thing that’s ever made change. It’s the real way democracies function.”
Many protesters waved placards that read “Black Lives Matter,” which has become a rallying cry after officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown on Aug. 9, igniting sometimes violent protests and renewing a debate on the troubled state of race relations in the United States.
Some chanted, “Hands up! Don’t shop!,” a play on another commonly heard refrain at protests in Ferguson, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
The protesters temporarily blocked traffic by flooding a busy intersection, but quickly returned to the sidewalk. Many later began marching toward Times Square before eventually returning to Macy’s.
Police were seen arresting at least one of the protesters after officers had tried to clear a group away from one of the store’s doors, but a department spokesman said they could not confirm the total number of arrests.
Similar protests also took place in other American cities, including St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles, with organizers using one of busiest shopping days of the year to draw attention to what they say was an unwarranted killing and a miscarriage of justice.