Pouring Rain Fails to Deter Garner Protests


By Cristian Santana

For the third consecutive night, activists hit the street to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict a Staten Island police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Showers and cold weather did not deter the activists December 5, when they brought traffic to a halt in major junctions and roads like Herald Square, Times Square, and the FDR drive. Demonstrators, armed with new autopsy information released by the courts the day before, continued to voice their anger over the grand jury’s decision.

The medical examiner ruled Eric Garner’s death was caused by a chokehold in August. However, on December 4, Staten Island Supreme Court Judge Stephen Rooney released more information, including autopsy photos and instructions relayed to the grand jury.


Protesters from Midtown joined together at Bryant Park in one mass march, chanting phrases like, “I am my brother’s keeper” and “All lives matter.”

Nicole H. from Staten Island said she felt there was something really dark that needed to be addressed. “If cops want to be treated like people, then they need to be tried like people — no special exceptions.”

Crowds zigzagged police roadblocks throughout Midtown, occasionally stopping to re-group and chant. Protesters and police remained calm throughout the night, walking side by side. Demonstrators demanding changes in police procedure and culture rarely directed their voices towards the officers on scene. Police took action when the protest went onto the FDR, via Delancey Street, dispersing the crowd and arresting some individuals.

Mayor de Blasio announced on December 5 that officers will begin a three-day retraining course aimed at controlling anger and at reminding them why they are police officers. However, some citizens like Patricia Woods, a Long Islander and the mother of an NYPD officer said she thinks it’s also a matter of putting officers in the correct communities, “You can’t put a police officer from South Hampton to work in the South Bronx.”


Even with all the demonstrations, talks of possible action on the federal level and the NYPD’s own investigation, the protesters’ expectations remained low. When asked about his opinion of possible action by the NYPD Internal Affairs Office, Matthew P. from Brooklyn said only, “History repeats itself.”

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