Over 1,000 protesters took the streets in the heart of New York City on Wednesday night to voice their anger over a Staten Island grand jury’s decision to not indict a police officer who choked and killed an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, earlier this year.
The outrage in the crowd was palpable, met again and again with a barrage of uniformed blue.
In midtown Manhattan, marching protesters met a stone wall of hundreds of cops that sought to tightly control the crowd’s movements, pushing them down pre-determined streets and physically keeping them out of an iconic New York City event targeted for disruption: The annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
The protests, which are ongoing at the time of publication, have been peaceful, especially when compared to the destruction and violence cause by riots in Ferguson, Mo., last week, but police officers did forcefully shove demonstrators who didn’t obey their commands.
The marching abruptly stopped at 47th Street and 6th when police officers took over the street and threatened mass arrests for “disrupting vehicular traffic,” against anyone who didn’t leave the street in time. Several arrests were made but the exact number is unclear.
Much of the crowd dispersed to other areas while others surrounded the police and continued chants. One black policewoman was called a sellout by several other women in the crowd, who said she should “stand with her people.”
The NYPD announced it was bringing in over 1,000 extra officers in order to keep the situation under control—a number that may have almost matched the entirety of the protest. Officers on duty were asked to work double shifts.
Many protesters became frustrated when they were kept to chanting slogans over and over again in pre-determined corridors while they failed to shut down the tree lighting.
Protesters later managed to march down the West Side Highway before being turned back by police barricades. At the time of this writing, the crowd is marching down Broadway.
Photo by Patrick Howell O’Neill