New Yorkers Protest Ferguson Decision

Protestor in Times Square (Photo by Melissa Noel for Voices of NY)

Protestor in Times Square (Photo by Melissa Noel for Voices of NY)

Hundreds of people took to New York City streets Monday night, in protest of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9.

This large crowd first gathered in Union Square prior to the grand jury’s decision to hear the outcome they had awaited for more than three months.

They then marched from Union Square to Times Square shouting, “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace!” They also held signs that read “Once again no justice,” “Don’t shoot,” and “Stop killing our friends.”

The decision not to indict officer Wilson left many feeling sad, but not surprised. “When you have a certain perpetrator and a certain victim, the crime is ignored and it’s a shame,” said protestor Dominic Ryan.

Steve Yankou, who was carrying one of the many signs that read, “Black lives matter” alongside Ryan, agreed. “We have been out here before and it makes me sad to say this, but we will be out here again,” he said.

New Yorkers have turned out before to express their anger over the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. A much smaller, but similar scene to Monday’s protest took place in Brooklyn last week after the death of Akai Gurley. Gurley, an unarmed 28-year-old, was shot to death on Nov. 21 by a rookie NYPD officer in the stairwell of a public housing project.

Protestors at Times Square (Photo by Melissa Noel for Voices of NY)

Protestors in Times Square (Photo by Melissa Noel for Voices of NY)

There were a number of protestors whose signs had pictures of Gurley and many others who have been killed by officers demanding that the justice system “Jail killer cops.” Other demonstrators yelled “Eric Garner” and “ Ramarley Graham” repeatedly and asked when their families will get justice.

Garner was a 44-year-old father from Staten Island who died after being placed in a chokehold by officers during an arrest for illegally selling loose cigarettes. Graham was an 18-year-old who was shot and killed by an NYPD officer, who believed he had a weapon. Graham was followed into his home where he was shot in the chest in front of his grandmother and little brother. No weapon was ever found.

“It’s been two-and-a-half years and it still feels like yesterday,” said Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham. Her family is still waiting for their day in court. A 2012 indictment of manslaughter against the officer who shot her son was tossed out due to a technicality, and the family is still expecting the results of a federal investigation.

“Another mother has lost her son and still no justice. How are we ever going to win? A person can come into your home and murder you and walk free,” she said. “This keeps happening and there seems to be no accountability.”

The issue of accountability is what many New York demonstrators said is the big issue, one they can no longer be silent about. “We need to do more of this. We don’t do this enough. I will be out here as long as it takes for things to change,” said Janet Vasques from Harlem.

Overall the protests were peaceful. However police cited several arrests, including one of a protestor who splattered NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton with fake blood. The crowd in Times Square dispersed around 11:30 p.m. Some continued marching well into Tuesday morning. One group went toward the FDR Drive and across the Triboro and Manhattan bridges while others headed toward Brooklyn.

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