On Thursday evening, what started as an Amnesty International vigil in honor of Troy Davis in Union Square soon became a full-blown march through the streets of New York. The group gathered to protest the Sept 21st execution of Davis, which was approved by the Supreme Court even after many of the eyewitnesses the case depended on recanted their testimony, claiming that they had been coerced by the police.
Frustration towards the criminal justice system, institutionalized racism, and joblessness blended together, becoming a potent force. The marching crowd was estimated by participants at around a thousand strong. CUNY law students in neon green hats, representing the National Lawyers Guild, a nonprofit legal and political organization, pushed to the front to monitor police officers' actions and report any scuffles that occurred.
After passing Washington Square Park, the march gained momentum, spontaneously continuing on to join with the Occupy Wall Street protestors in Liberty Square, who joined them with drumming and cheers. A police escort got involved at the beginning of the march.
"It was really exciting and empowering and exhilarating, just how many people were marching, and how people took turns leading," said Elena Callahan, a 25-year-old Brooklyn resident who had been involved from the beginning, when she went to Union Square to protest Troy Davis's execution.
"The police were trying to block us off at every turn," Callahan added. "They stepped up their presence, with Vespas, tear gas, and a paddy wagon."
"No justice, no peace!" the marchers shouted, managing to find ways around the police blockades for at least two hours before reaching Wall Street.
"The system is racist!" began one of their chants.
"If you're at the wrong place at the wrong time, are you going to protected?" Callahan asked. "Whose interests are being protected?"
Those seem to be questions that many young people in this country are asking.