Loosely organized under the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and other social media campaigns, protests of police killings of African-Americans were already underway in several major U.S. cities on New Year’s Eve, with police ramping up for more.
Police said at least 24 people were charged with various crimes related to public order in St. Louis, where about 75 demonstrators affiliated with the activist group Ferguson Action gathered at police headquarters early Wednesday to protest the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson on Aug. 9.
Protesters, who moved to other parts of the city Wednesday night, told NBC station KSDK of St. Louis that they were also remembering other unarmed African-Americans whom police killed in 2014, including Eric Garner, 43, who died after being placed in a police chokehold in New York in July.
In Boston, nearly 100 took part in a “die-in” in Copley Square late Wednesday afternoon, ahead of the city’s First Night festivities.
“When kids see people dying in the middle of the square, maybe they’ll ask their parents, ‘Why is America like this?'” Martin Henson, one of the event’s organizers, told NBC station WHDH of Boston. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the protesters were welcome as long as they “do it in a respectful manner, to allow people the opportunity to enjoy First Night.”
Similar protests were being organized in New York and other major cities, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Many were being organized by Stop Mass Incarceration, a project of the nonprofit Alliance for Global Justice, which called for a mass march on New York’s Times Square at 10 p.m.
NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said Wednesday that “people have an absolute right to protest,” as long as they don’t break laws.
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SOURCE: NBC News – M. Alex Johnson