Sunday, August 24, 2014

Thousands of People March in New York City to Protest Police Chokehold Death
Demonstration demanding justice for Eric Garner on Aug. 23, 2014.
Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:41PM GMT

Thousands of people have marched in New York City to denounce US police discrimination against African-Americans and to protest the chokehold death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer.

The march, dubbed "We Will Not Go Back," began on Saturday afternoon in Staten Island, where 43-year-old Eric Garner died after New York City police put him in a banned chokehold July 17.

The rally, led by the Reverend Al Sharpton and relatives of Garner, culminated at the office of Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who this week sent the case to a grand jury.

The protesters walked behind a banner that read: "We Will Not Go Back, March for Justice."

Garner’s death has reignited a national debate in the United States about how police use excessive force, particularly on people who are not white.

"We are not here to cause riots, we are here because violence was caused," Sharpton said.

"If you can do it to him, then you can do it to any citizen and we are not going to be silent when that happens," Sharpton said at a pre-rally speech.

Former New York Governor David Patterson, a number of civil rights leaders and Garner's widow, Esaw, also attended the rally.

"Let's make this a peaceful march and get justice for my husband so that this doesn't happen to anybody else," Esaw Garner said in a somber speech to protesters.

The protest was also in response to the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man who was killed by a white police officer this month in Ferguson, Missouri.

Demonstrators carried signs calling for justice for Garner and Brown and shouted slogans including, "Hands up don't shoot."

African-Americans and other minorities in New York City say they feel unfairly targeted by police for suspicion of crime.

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, suffered from asthma and was unarmed when he was stopped by police in Staten Island for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.

After resisting arrest, Garner was placed in a chokehold by white NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo and can be heard, in a cellphone video, screaming "I can't breathe!" several times as he was forced to the ground and handcuffed.

The confrontation led to his death a short time later. The city medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and NYPD officers Pantaleo and Justin Damico have been reassigned during the investigation.

Sharpton and other activists have demanded that Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan bring criminal charges against the officers and have called for the US Justice Department to step in.

The shooting death of Brown by Ferguson city police officer Darren Wilson on August 9 has also sparked outrage and protests across the nation, including nightly protests in Ferguson. Civil rights activists say Brown's death followed years of police targeting blacks.

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