Nationwide Protests Are Bringing Issue Of Police Abuse To Forefront
Above: New York City protest against Eric Garner grand jury decision and police abuse across the country: #This Stops Today, December 4, 2014. Photo by Ellen Davidson.
Governments at All Levels are Being Forced to Confront the Issue of Police Abuse by People Power in the Streets of the Nation
Below are a series of headlines, photos, video and opening paragraphs from major media sources describing how they covered the nationwide protests against the grand jury decisions in police shooting cases in New York and Ferguson as well as police abuse which has become a nationwide epidemic. Some papers like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Atlanta Journal-Constitution where there were major protests did not cover the local protests in their communities. Others, like the Washington Post, focused more on the politics of the issue with photos of protests in DC and nationally.
Police Cases Stir National Protests, Debate
Thousands and thousands of diverse people united by anger took to the streets from New York City to San Francisco for a second straight night to protest a grand jury clearing a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
Grandparents marched with their grandchildren. Experienced activists stood alongside newcomers, and protesters of all colors chanted slogans.
“We’re under siege and it has to stop,” Harlem resident Judy Edwards said at a rally Thursday night in lower Manhattan’s Foley Square.
The 61-year-old black woman was accompanied by her daughter and twin 10-year-old grandchildren, a boy and a girl. She said it was important to her that the children saw a crowd that was racially mixed and diverse in many other ways all insisting upon the same thing – that something must be done.
That was the message, too, in cities across America: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis Oakland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., among them. Sign-carrying, chanting demonstrators marched down heavily-traveled streets and shut down highways and bridges. Politicians talked about the need for better police training, body cameras and changes in the grand jury process to restore faith in the legal system.
Garner Protests Spread Across The Country
“Thousands gathered in New York Thursday for a second day of protests after a grand jury announced its decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner. Massive crowds of protesters demonstrated in Foley Square, in Lower Manhattan, as well as in major cities, including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington.” The Justice Department released a report yesterday condemning the Cleveland Police Department’s overuse of force. Police departments nationwide are reevaluating tactics, and NYC’s Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the NYPD will undergo a three-day re-training on “smart policing.”
Protesters Fill The Streets Across the Country Over Decision in Eric Garner Case
Thousands of demonstrators poured out in cities across the country on Thursday night in a show of outrage over a grand jury’s decision the previous day not to indict a white New York City police officer whose chokehold caused an unarmed black man’s death.
Many chanted the last words of the man, Eric Garner, 43, of Staten Island: “I can’t breathe.” In some places, they grew disruptive, snarled traffic on major arteries and lay down in the streets.
For the second night in a row, 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.
Protest Against Cops Killing Unarmed Black Men Underway in Boston
A massive crowd of demonstrators gathered at Boston Common during Thursday’s tree lighting ceremony to protest against two recent high-profile cases of police officers not being indicted for killing unarmed black men.
Estimates of the total number of protesters reached into the thousands. Police arrested at least 10 of the protesters, according to The Boston Globe.
After leaving the State House around 8 p.m., the crowd of protesters dispersed to different sections of downtown Boston, closing streets in front of South Station and TD Garden. Some got on to ramps for the Massachusetts Turnpike and I-93, temporarily closing those roads.
A group of protesters descended into Park Street Station and stood on the tracks, shouting, “Whose tracks? Our tracks!”
The protests at the station temporarily closed Parks Street for about an hour on Thursday night. As of 11:30 p.m., the MBTA resumed Green Line servicedowntown but were bypassing Park Street. In addition, Red Line trains were also bypassing Park Street late Thursday night.
As of late Thursday, the T recommended on its website that Green Line riders looking to get on the Red Line take the Orange Line to Haymarket and then take the train to Downtown Crossing.
Earlier in the evening, a heavy police presence separated protesters from the tree-lighting ceremony’s stage on the outskirts of Boston Common. Protestors’ chants of “Enough is enough,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” mixed with various Christmas jingles like “Jingle Bell Rock” during the evening.
Garner Case Reaction Unites Left and Right
Two events unfold in a strikingly similar way, just a week apart: After an unarmed African American man dies at the hands of a white police officer, a grand jury declines to bring that officer to trial. Protests ensue.
But the political conversations surrounding the two cases have been very different.
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., became an inkblot test illuminating the nation’s deeply rooted political and racial divides.
The fatal use of a banned chokehold on Eric Garner, an asthmatic father of six and grandfather of two, in New York City seems to have had the opposite effect — bringing wide condemnation crossing racial, partisan and ideological lines. Conservatives have joined liberals in denouncing the Staten Island grand jury’s decision Wednesday as a miscarriage of justice.
Cleveland Police Too Quick To Use Deadly Force, Justice Department Says
The growing distrust between Cleveland police and the communities they serve can be attributed in part to how quickly officers draw their weapons without trying to use words to calm tense situations, according to the U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Cleveland Division of Police.
In addition to finding that police often fire their weapons recklessly, the report called out police for using deadly force or less lethal force as their first approach rather than a last resort, even in cases where a suspect is mentally disabled.
“We…discovered that officers do not effectively de-escalate situations, either because they do not know how, or because they do not have an adequate understanding of the importance of de-escalating encounters before resorting to force whenever possible,” the report says.
These practices have become routine in a police culture that encourages using force as punishment – a pattern that’s not only illegal but also puts a strain on police-citizen relations, according to the Justice Department.
Demonstrators Interrupt Baltimore Monument Lighting Event
More than 100 protesters marched from the Inner Harbor to Mount Vernon on Thursday night to interrupt Baltimore’s Washington Monument lighting with a peaceful but loud demonstration in the middle of the annual holiday event.
“No justice, no holiday! No justice, no peace!” the protesters chanted, holding cardboard signs in front of the concert stage at the monument lighting and drowning out the Roland Park Country School Semiquavers a cappella ensemble.
The Morgan State University Choir next took the stage. Demonstrators swayed back and forth, their hands up in a “don’t shoot” pose, as the choir sang. The protest chants resumed after the song ended, and as the choir left the stage, many singers drew cheers by joining the crowd, also putting their hands in the air.
Protesters then left the Mount Vernon event and marched through downtown Baltimore, closing several intersections en route to City Hall. No arrests related to the demonstrations were made Thursday night, said Baltimore Police spokesman Detective Howard Ruganzu.
A group of student protesters marched silently through Morgan State’s campus earlier Thursday as thousands marched in New York City after a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
Protestors Decry Decision in Eric Garner Case During Newark March
About 100 protestors marched through downtown Newark tonight to protest a New York City grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer involved in the July death of Staten Island man Eric Garner.
As speakers filed to the steps in front of the Lincoln monument at the corner of West Market Street and Springfield Avenue, they invoked Garner’s name as well as a series of other men killed during confrontations with police.
Some, like Michael Brown, are known across the country, and have sparked similar demonstrations in the city. Others, like Abdul Kamal and Jose Quinonez, were killed by law enforcement agencies in Essex County, and have little recognition beyond the crowd made up largely of local civil rights groups and other activists.
“We could stand here all night and the list would never end, of the victims of police brutality,” said Larry Hamm, Chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress.
Protesters block I-35W in Minneapolis, get heard at City Hall
Police-minority relations a top issue for the marchers.
With her 10-month-old daughter wrapped snugly at her chest, Mari Fitch marched three miles through Minneapolis on Thursday, most of it up the center of an empty Interstate 35W shut down by protest for the first time since the Vietnam War.
Along with about 150 other demonstrators, some carrying signs that read “Black lives matter,” she chanted the names of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two men killed in fatal confrontations with police officers. The protesters pumped their fists and shouted messages about justice, referencing two grand juries’ decisions not to indict the officers involved in Brown’s and Garner’s deaths.
The high-profile rally had echoes of protests that have sprouted up in other cities around the country, often fueled by crowds enraged by what they say is unfair and often lethal treatment of minorities.
A few times, the crowd stopped in the center of the freeway to stage a “die-in,” lying on the ground and chanting “I can’t breathe,” Garner’s last words.
Protesters bundled in parkas, hats and scarves said they wanted to show their frustration at how police have treated minorities. Fitch, 22, said she worries about the messages sent by the cases of Brown and Garner.
“They can’t take people’s lives just because they feel threatened,” she said, adding, “I want my little girl to grow up in a world where people care about the lives of others.”
Wednesday’s protest began around noon with a separate demonstration on another issue: fast food workers seeking a $15 minimum wage. Demonstrators on that campaign met at the Burger King near 34th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, where they were joined by Mayor Betsy Hodges and Council Member Alondra Cano.
As that protest ended, organizers with a newly founded group called Black Lives Matter Minneapolis stepped forward with megaphones and a plan: Head south to the freeway on-ramp, take over Interstate 35W, march three miles north to downtown and then on to City Hall.
More protests vowed in Chicago over no charges in police chokehold death
The wave of protests over a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man in New York City spilled into the streets of Chicago overnight, with hundreds of protesters marching through the Loop and briefly closing Lake Shore Drive.
The scene was similar to a protest in Chicago last week after a similar case in Missouri, where a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black suspect.
As in that protest, no injuries or damage was reported in marches that continued late into night Thursday in downtown Chicago. Police released a statement calling the protest “peaceful.”
Four people were arrested and charged with misdemeanors: One man was charged with aggravated assault of police officers after allegedly threatening to hit two officers; two men were cited for obstructing traffic; a fourth man was charged with reckless conduct.
The protesters disbanded shortly before midnight as stragglers walked through the Loop. Demonstrators said they would rally again at 1:30 p.m. Friday at 1 E. Jackson Blvd.
The protests began after no charges were brought against Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in a confrontation that killed Eric Garner in New York. A bystander captured the incident on a video that has gained national attention.
Protests Over NYPD Choke-Hold Death Spread to Detroit
Chanting “I can’t breathe,” a small group of protesters lay otherwise still in the chill of a December afternoon Thursday at Campus Martius Park as Detroit joined in nationwide demonstrations over the deaths of black men at the hands of police.
The group, which eventually included more than 30 people, was directly protesting the killing of Eric Garner, an African American, in a scuffle with New York police this summer and the grand jury decision not to indict the officer who placed him in a choke hold. But protesters also referenced the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which sparked riots and a heavily criticized police response as well as a similar grand jury decision there.
In saying they could not breathe, protesters were mouthing comments Garner made repeatedly as he was subdued by police after they accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. The altercation was captured on video and has prompted an angry response both online and in protests now spreading across the country.
Under the watchful eye of Detroit police, news reporters and a handful of spectators, the Detroit protesters eventually left Campus Martius and marched up Woodward Avenue toward Midtown, shouting an evolving array of chants that included “a badge is not a license to kill” and ” police brutality must be stopped. Fire and jail these racist cops.”
Protesters Return to Streets of Oakland, San Francisco
Protests were taking place in both Oakland and San Francisco again Thursday evening in response to a Wednesday grand jury decision not to indict a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after being placed in a chokehold.
In San Francisco, Market Street was closed at Powell Street due to a “die-in” protest and buses were being rerouted around the area, according to city transit officials. A similar protest Wednesday night shut down Market Street for more than an hour.
In Oakland, several hundred people gathered in the area of 14th Street and Broadway to demand more accountability from police and better training for officers.
“I have a 6-year-old nephew who is always asking me if he is going to be killed,” said Meleah Ruffin, 17, of Oakland, one of the protesters. “Police need to realize that they are part of their communities and treat us as human beings, not targets.”
The 12th Street Oakland BART station entrance was closed around 7:30 p.m. due to the protest. Trains were still stopping at the station and passengers were allowed to get off, BART officials said.
At 9 p.m. Oakland police declared an unlawful assembly after stopping a group of protestors at International Boulevard and 22nd Avenue. Police stopped protestors there and then began letting them out a few at a time, splitting up the group.
However, around 50 continued marching to the Fruitvale BART station, where they were met by a heavy police presence and a closed station.
Portland Activists Protest Eric Garner Decision, Converge on Rose Quarter
Hundreds of protesters converged on the Rose Quarter Thursday night, chanting “I can’t breathe” at riot police stationed at the Moda Center, to decry a New York grand jury’s decision to not indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
About 500 demonstrators had gathered outside the Moda Center, where approximately 30 police officers in riot gear blocked off the south entrance and limited building access. By the time the Trail Blazers game ended after about 9:15 p.m., police had formed a narrow corridor to allow fans to leave.
Officers returned to the lobby after the post-game exodus, prompting cheers from the demonstrators.
“We won tonight!” a protester yelled over a blowhorn. “But this fight does not end until the laws change.”
The rally came a day after a grand jury declined to pursue chargers against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the videotaped chokehold death of Eric Garner. The 43-year-old, who had been stopped for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island, is recorded saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” while under Pantaleo’s grip.
Thursday’s march began at 6 p.m., near the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct on Northeast Emerson Street. Demonstrators ignored police requests to keep to the sidewalk as they marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, blocking the southbound lane near Northeast Shaver Street, and snarling traffic. About a dozen police officers on bikes monitored their progress.
“No justice, no peace, disarm the police,” the marchers chanted.
The marchers set out intending to meet up with a second group that originated downtown. The activity in the Rose Quarter caused delays on MAX light-rail lines, TriMet announced Thursday night.
Protesters carrying casket march in downtown St. Louis
Dozens of protesters are marching again in downtown St. Louis to protest the killing of Michael Brown and the lack of charges against the officer who killed him.
The protesters, carrying signs and a casket, gathered in Kiener Plaza late Friday morning, then marched to the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse to protest.
They were trying to deliver letters demanding federal investigations into police shootings in the St. Louis area. As rain poured down, the protesters put the letters in the casket and planned to take it into the courthouse.
They are protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, and trying to draw attention to police shootings overall.