Thousands Protest in New York City on Thursday Night After Garner Grand Jury Decision

Protesters gather in Foley Square in lower Manhattan in New York City demanding justice for the death of Eric Garner December 4, 2014. (CREDIT: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)
Protesters gather in Foley Square in lower Manhattan in New York City demanding justice for the death of Eric Garner December 4, 2014. (CREDIT: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)

Thousands of demonstrators gathered Thursday night in several cities to protest recent killings of unarmed African-Americans by white police officers.

The protests, kindled by a grand jury’s decision on Wednesday not to indict a New York City police officer whose chokehold caused a 43-year-old Staten Island man’s death, drew crowds in New York, Washington and beyond.

In Lower Manhattan, a crowd at Foley Square had swelled to at least 2,000 by 7 p.m., filling the entire park, spilling into the streets and blocking one of the Chambers Street subway entrances. Participants chanted, “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”

The protesters were mostly young and diverse in ethnicity. Some, like Jared Lee, 26, of Brooklyn, participated in protests on Wednesday night, and others in response to the decision in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo., last week. But Mr. Lee says he is not weary of marching in the cold.

“It has to happen,” he said. “After the verdict they say, ‘Go back to your homes, go back to your jobs.’ But they need to hear that people are disrupted by this. Hopefully this keeps going on. Keep protesting.”

In Washington, demonstrators marched along major arteries near the White House before going over the 14th Street Bridge, which connects the city and Arlington, Va. On Twitter, the Metropolitan Police Department advised motorists to avoid the area.

Thousands were expected to attend a demonstration in Boston timed to coincide with the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree on Boston Common, which Mayor Martin J. Walsh was expected to host with Stephen McNeil, the premier of Nova Scotia. David Estrada, a spokesman for the Boston Police Department, said extra officers would be patrolling the site.

More than two hours before the demonstration’s scheduled 7 p.m. start, a large group of protesters — many from a planned walkout at Emerson College — marched on Boston Common and in front of the Statehouse.

A grand jury on Staten Island deliberated for less than a day before deciding on Wednesday to close the case against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 29, in the death of Eric Garner. The decision came barely a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., declined to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson, 28, who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, in August.

In both cases, elected officials and civil rights activists called on the Justice Department to intervene. The agency has said it is investigating whether the police officers violated the men’s civil rights.

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