BLACK VOICES
12/05/2014 08:33 pm ET Updated Feb 04, 2015

New York Sees Third Night Of Protests Over Police Violence

By Robert MacMillan, Andrew Chung and Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Protesters in New York and other U.S. cities rallied for a third straight night on Friday denouncing the use of deadly force by police against minorities, as prosecutors said they would consider charges against an officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in November.

The killing of Akai Gurley, 28, gunned down in a dimly lit stairwell in the New York borough of Brooklyn, was the latest in a string of lethal police actions fueling public outrage over what many perceive as race-based violence by law enforcement.

This week's wave of angry but largely peaceful protests began Wednesday when a New York grand jury declined to bring charges against white officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black 43-year-old father of six.

A videotape of the confrontation on Staten Island in July showed Pantaleo's arm across Garner's neck as four officers subdued the unarmed man on suspicion of selling cigarettes illegally. Garner was pinned face down to the pavement as he repeatedly gasped, "I can't breathe" - a phrase protesters have transformed into a rallying cry.

The decision sparing Pantaleo from prosecution was announced nine days after a Missouri grand jury chose not to indict a white policeman for the shooting death in August of an unarmed black teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, spurring two nights of arson and unrest there.

On Thursday, protests erupted in Phoenix, Arizona after a police officer shot dead an unarmed black man during a scuffle.

"The government has created a monster and the monster is now loose," said Soraya Soi Free, 45, a nurse from the Bronx who has been protesting in New York.

MARCHERS INVADE APPLE STORE

After two nights that saw thousands of demonstrators pouring into the streets and blocking traffic in Manhattan, the turnout on Friday saw only hundreds as a cold, steady rain fell.

Still, more than 100 people stormed into an Apple Store to stage a brief "die-in," sprawling on the floor as shoppers and employees watched. They left without incident after about five minutes.

Similar demonstrations were staged at Macy's flagship department store in Herald Square and at Grand Central Terminal, one of the city's two main rail stations. Police stood by and allowed the protesters briefly to occupy the locations.

Protests also unfolded in Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Oakland, California where marchers echoed phrases such as "Black lives matter," and "I can't breathe."

Renee Alexander, 44, a nurse from Woodbridge, Virginia, who joined about 200 protesters in downtown Washington, expressed outrage over the footage of Garner's death.

"It's heartbreaking for me to watch, over and over on TV, how his life was cut short on the street, just like a dog," she said.

NEW CASE IN BROOKLYN

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said on Friday he would convene a grand jury to consider charges against the New York City officer who shot Gurley. Police have said the officer, Peter Liang, may have accidentally discharged his gun.

At a news conference with Gurley's relatives on Friday, Kevin Powell, the president of advocacy group BK Nation, called the shooting part of a "series of modern-day lynchings."

Gurley's mother, Sylvia Palmer, tearfully demanded justice.

In Cleveland on Friday, the family of a black 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police filed a lawsuit against the city, a day after the federal government found the police department systematically uses excessive force.

Elsewhere in the Midwest on Friday, activists concluded a 120-mile (190-km) protest march to the Missouri governor's mansion from Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot in August by a policeman.

New York officer Pantaleo told the grand jury he used a proper takedown technique and denied putting pressure on Garner's neck, according to his lawyer, Stuart London. The city's medical examiner has said Garner's death was caused by compressing his neck and chest, with his asthma and obesity contributing.

Pantaleo could still face disciplinary action from an internal police investigation, his lawyer said. Chokeholds are banned by police department regulations.

Court filings obtained by Reuters show that four black men have sued Pantaleo over two separate 2012 incidents, claiming they were stopped, strip-searched and arrested without cause.

The U.S. Justice Department will pursue civil rights investigations into the Missouri and New York cases, though legal experts have said federal charges for the two officers are unlikely. (Additional reporting by Frank McGurty, Joseph Ax, Ellen Wulfhorst, Scott Malone, Nandita Bose and Nathan Layne; Writing by Steve Gorman and Joseph Ax; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Grant McCool, Ken Wills, Kim Coghill and Dale Hudson)

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Eric Garner Protests