Roughly 75 people describing themselves as supporters of Akai Gurley rallied in the freezing cold in front of NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan Friday – 24 hours after Officer Peter Liang was convicted of manslaughter for shooting the unarmed man in a Brooklyn housing project stairwell.
“The whole damn system is guilty as hell,” yelled the crowd, many of whom held pictures of other people killed by officers, and repeated refrains heard at other city police brutality protests in recent years.
“Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail!”
Rally-goers said they were skeptical that justice would really be served, even after Thursday’s verdict in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Liang’s lawyers have pledged to fight the conviction. He faces up to 15 years when he is sentenced in April.
“It’s definitely a step forward, but Officer Liang is out on bail right now, and they’re already working on an appeal,” said Kerbie Joseph, 23, one of the rally’s organizers. “We have to be ready for anything that happens.”
“We’re dealing with a judicial system that is broken,” she said. “Even though we’ve struggled just to get to this point, we know that we have to keep on fighting.”
The crowd included the family of another young man killed by police in a housing project’s stairwell.
Nicholas Heyward Sr. said he was relieved to hear that Liang had been found guilty. Twenty-one years ago, his 13-year-old son had been playing cops and robbers with a toy gun in the 14th-floor stairwell of the Gowanus Houses when Officer Brian George shot and killed him.
Brooklyn prosecutors never moved to indict George for the fatal 1994 shooting.
Source: New York Daily News | BEN KOCHMAN