New Yorkers protest Ferguson grand jury decision

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11/25/2014

By ZACHARY R. DOWDY AND JOHN ASBURY

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted and marched through Times Square Monday night after a St. Louis County prosecutor announced that Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges in the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

“Justice for Mike Brown!” chanted the crowd of up to 400 people, who marched from Union Square to Times Square. “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”

The Manhattan crowd was peaceful in the hours before the much-anticipated announcement about the racially charged case in which an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer. They watched silently as the announcement was read by St. Louis County prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch shortly before 9:30 p.m. in Clayton, Missouri. The grand jury voted not to indict Wilson on any criminal charges.

At one point, protesters in Times Square threw fake blood on NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and members of his security detail.

NYPD officers lined the streets and stopped traffic as helicopters soared over the mostly peaceful protests.

Natalie Catton, 30, of Brooklyn, said she lived in St. Louis for nine years. She said she’s tired of police brutality.

“When I heard the ruling, there was nothing in my head, only tears,” said Catton, who is white. “It’s going to continue everywhere. We have a problem.”

Activists chanted slogans, like, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cops have got to go.”

They held up their hands and chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” They held up signs that read, “Black lives matter. We want an indictment.”

Eric Aviles, 42, of Harlem, said he marched out of anger over the grand jury decision and demanded policy changes.

“How can you shoot an unarmed man and get away with it?” Aviles said. “It’s not right.”

Cailys Grullon, 24, from the Bronx, said she marched out of “a personal call.”

“Justice is not being served,” said the native of the Dominican Republic. “People have the same right to justice as police.”

Michael Weston, 28, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said during the march in Times Square, protesters want to let those in power know things must change. He said his “quiet anger” at the decision changed to “loud anger” through the march.

“My hope is that it shows solidarity,” said Weston, who is black. “We’re mad. There have been so many cases and so many verdicts like this. We’re tired of it.”

Leah Feygin, 27, of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, who is white, said her goal was to inspire others.

“I just hope the people will be more active and realize there is an issue here, a race issue.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton told a Harlem crowd and reporters at the National Action Network: “The decision was expected, but still an absolute blow to those of us who wanted a fair trial.”

Sharpton stood with the family of NYPD choking victim Eric Garner and said he would meet with Brown’s family Tuesday morning in Ferguson.

“We said from the beginning, that we had little or no confidence in this local prosecutor and called for federal intervention,” Sharpton said. “We wanted to be here tonight to show a bond with them and collectively show the pain of having a loved one taken by police.”

Sharpton called for an additional federal investigation into Brown’s death. He criticized Missouri prosecutors comparing Brown’s shoplifting of cigarillos to a fleeing felon.

He also lumped Brown’s shooting with recent cases in New York, such as Garner’s death.

“Let it be clear, that we’re dealing with the same attitudes in this city,” Sharpton said. “We can lose a round, but the fight is not over.”

Harlem residents reacted with chants of “No justice, no peace.”

Residents filled the room on West 145th Street as they watched the televised news conference from Ferguson. Audience members cried out when the decision was announced.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) released a statement asking that the decision be “respected by every American — whatever their race or political affiliation.”

“Today’s grand jury decision also shows how wrong it was for so many of our leaders to have implicitly prejudged this case by accepting the narrative that a police officer with an unblemished record had murdered an innocent man in cold blood and in broad daylight,” King said.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, tweeted, “How to make sense of the senseless? My heart goes out to Michael Brown’s family.”

“What we need now is reform and action, not violence or vengeance,” New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, a Democrat, said Monday night in an email.

Working Families party National Director Dan Cantor and Center for Working Families Executive Director Valerie Ervin said: “The moral logic of this decision would be incomprehensible if it weren’t so routine. Another young Black man is killed, and somehow, no one has committed a crime. We must tell the truth about the nation as we see it: all lives are not given equal worth.”

Bracing for an emotional outpouring, police in many cities were on alert.

Before McCulloch’s announcement, Bratton said the force was ready to respond, and the department was “anticipating there will be demonstrations. But I am not anticipating anything getting out of control.”

Also before the announcement, the Urban League of Long Island said: “The killing of Michael Brown has forever left a void in the hearts and lives of his parents, family and friends, who lost a son and a loved one much too soon. The killing of Michael Brown has also brought to light many of the unfortunate blemishes — criminal justice disparities, volatile police-community relations, unemployment and economic inequities — that tarnish our great nation and that prevent us from being the best of whom we can be.”

With Emily Ngo and Ivan Pereira

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 at 2:25 pm and is filed under Breaking News, Crime, Newsday, Print Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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