Eric Garner Protests In Times Square Attract Hundreds — PHOTOS
After a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a New York City police officer for killing an unarmed African-American man, protesters quickly arrived at Times Square on Wednesday evening. Raising signs that said, "Black Lives Matter" and "We Want Justice," the Eric Garner protest in New York's Times Square took over the famous, tourist-heavy area, where police presence was high even before the marches and chants began. According to various social media networks, protests have also been planned for Wednesday night at Union Square and the annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center.
Garner, an African-American resident of Staten Island, was killed on a street in the borough's Tompkinsville neighborhood after Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold, which is banned under NYPD guidelines. The chokehold, as well as Garner's death, was captured on video taken by witnesses at the scene. As Pantaleo wraps his arm around Garner's neck and pushes him to the ground, Garner can be heard saying, "I can't breathe," again and again.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has spoken out against the grand jury's controversial decision. In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, de Blasio called Garner's death a "terrible tragedy" and vowed that NYPD will be held accountable to prevent future unjust deaths:
Today’s outcome is one that many in our city did not want. Yet New York City owns a proud and powerful tradition of expressing ourselves through non-violent protest. We trust that those unhappy with today’s grand jury decision will make their views known in the same peaceful, constructive way. We all agree that demonstrations and free speech are valuable contributions to debate, and that violence and disorder are not only wrong – but hurt the critically important goals we are trying to achieve together.
The mayor also announced on Wednesday that he won't be attending the Christmas Tree Lighting — a crucial and perhaps controversial gesture for the leader of New York City. Both de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said they would cooperate with a federal investigation into Garner's death.
Here's what New York City's Times Square looked like Wednesday evening. Protesters have also begun marching uptown, while some are making their way toward Rockefeller Center...