Monday, December 8th, 2014. New York City – A group of protestors blocked the Verrazano Bridge this morning.
In response to the Eric Garner grand jury decision, activists and community members block the Verrazano Bridge
New Yorkers travel to Staten Island to demand justice.
Staten Island, New York: This morning, community members from across New York City staged a civil disobedience protest action in response to the grand jury decision to not indict NYPD officer Danny Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Several dozen protesters took commuters and the NYPD by surprise as they stormed on to the Verrazano Bridge during early morning rush hour traffic.
The protesters ran out onto the highway, unveiled banners reading “Eric Garner,” “Mike Brown” and “Black Lives Matter,” laid homemade coffins on the freeway, and chanted and sang songs together for 7 minutes before exiting the freeway. The protesters stated that they wanted to block the highway for 7 minutes in honor of the 7 minutes that the NYPD and EMTs were recorded not providing medical care to Eric Garner after Officer Pantaleo applied a chokehold to him. Although the chokehold has been banned as a practice by the NYPD for many years, the Staten Island grand jury decided last Wednesday that there was not enough evidence to indict Pantaleo for Mr. Garner’s death. “They let Eric Garner lay there and die after he cried out 11 times that he couldn’t breathe. Now I’m in the street demanding justice, and I can’t leave,” said a protester who wished to remain anonymous.
Protesters said the blockage also symbolizes their demand for police accountability both in Staten Island and across New York, by preventing police officers who live on the island from being able to drive into the city. Staten Island is known in New York for having a high percentage of police officers as residents in the borough. “If Staten Island is going to allow their cops to get away with murdering our people, then we refuse to allow all the officers who live in Staten to come terrorize the rest of our communities across the city,” said Aidge Patterson, protest participant and organizer with Peoples’ Justice and Cop Watch.
In the last several weeks, police officers in numerous high profile police killings have not been indicted, including John Crawford in Ohio, Mike Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York City, and just a few weeks ago Vonderrit Myers in St. Louis, among others. Another protester declared that, “In New York grand juries failed to indict the officers who killed Ramarley Graham, Mohamed Bah, Jayson Tirado, Noel Polanco and so many more. The system is not working to hold the police responsible for killings and brutality. It’s time to take police accountability into our own hands and commit to caring for one another.” Many community members involved in this action noted that the fact that not only has justice not been brought for Eric Garner and other victims of police violence but that constitutionally-sanctioned protests around the country are being violently repressed by police is fueling the public’s outrage.
<Video from today, 12/08/2014.
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