Hundreds Arrested in New York as Swarms of Protesters Shut Down Traffic from Coast to Coast

Louise Boyle and Josh Gardner, Daily Mail, December 4, 2014

Police arrested 223 people in New York City on Thursday night and into Friday morning as protesters took to the street for the second night after a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer in Eric Garner’s chokehold death.

Demonstrators also turned out in cities including Washington D.C., Seattle, Atlanta  and Oakland a day after the decision not to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the July incident.

Although there have been no reports of violence from protesters, police made a number of arrests as scores of demonstrators shut down traffic on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.

Many arrests were made in Times Square, where police pushed back against protesters just before 11pm, and others were later arrested at Eighth Avenue and 51st Street and at Madison Avenue and 57th Street, ABC7 reported.

Eric Garner’s case converged with the Ferguson shooting and investigations out of South Carolina and Cleveland to stir a national conversation about racial justice and police use of force.

Demonstrators protested for a second night in New York, carrying replicas of coffins across the Brooklyn Bridge, and turned out in such cities as Denver, Detroit and Minneapolis.

The protests have pushed politicians and others to talk about the need for better police training, body cameras and changes in the grand jury process to restore faith in the legal system.

‘A whole generation of officers will be trained in a new way,’ New York Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed as he and his police commissioner outlined previously announced plans to teach officers how to communicate better with people on the street.

In the tiny South Carolina town of Eutawville, a white former police chief was charged with murder in the 2011 shooting of an unarmed black man. Richards Combs’ lawyer accused prosecutors of taking advantage of national outrage toward police to obtain the indictment more than three years after the killing.

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At a news conference in New York after a night of protests led to 83 arrests, the Rev. Al Sharpton called the state-level grand jury system ‘broken’ when it comes to police brutality cases and urged federal authorities to fix it.

‘The federal government must do in the 21st century what it did in the mid-20th century,’ the said. ‘Federal intervention must come now and protect people from state grand juries.’

Still, federal civil rights cases against police officers are exceedingly rare.

In the past two decades, only a few such cases have reached trial in New York–most notably the one involving Abner Louima, who was sodomized with a broom handle in a police station in 1997. Several other high-profile cases didn’t come together.

Police were out in full force across New York City on Thursday night as officials braced for a second night of protests from demonstrators furious with a grand jury decision not to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner.

A crowd of thousands first convened in the city’s Union Square to demand change to a justice system they say unfairly favors police in cases like Eric Garner’s and Michael Brown’s.

Likewise, countless police cruisers, vans and officers showed up en mass along Manhattan’s biggest centers of commerce prepared to keep the peace.

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Organizers and marchers alike took to Twitter to alert the group that from Union Square, they would move south–downtown to Foley Square.

Thousands flooded into the square near City Hall to chant the matras of ‘black lives matter,’ ‘No justice, no peace’ and ‘I can’t breathe.’

CantBreathe

Simultaneous and subsequent demonstrations were soon seen at either side of Manhattan.

Police headed off demonstrations to the east, where they were headed en mass to occupy the Brooklyn Bridge.

On Manhattan’s West Side, protesters flowed toward the West Side Highway in an attempt to bring traffic to a halt as they did on Wednesday night.

A group of thousands marched up Broadway, one of the city’s busiest and most famous thoroughfares, and their sheer mass stopped traffic.

The group then continued north, heading uptown on Broadway with traffic at a standstill behind them.

A judge on Thursday released limited details about the New York grand jury that voted not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner as protests got underway for a second night.

The grand jury heard testimony from 50 witnesses and considered 60 exhibits over the course of nine weeks of deliberations in the death of the unarmed black father on Staten Island in July.

Some 22 witnesses were civilians and the rest were police officers, emergency responders and doctors.

Among the 60 exhibits were four videos, NYPD procedures and Mr Garner’s medical records.

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