Thousands of people marched in Washington and New York today to demand justice for black men who have died at the hands of white police, the latest in weeks of demonstrations across the United States.
The families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were among the demonstrators in the heart of the US capital for the “Justice For All March,” part of a growing protest movement sparked by the fatal August shooting of the unarmed Brown, 18, by a white policeman.
A grand jury decision last month not to indict police officer Darren Wilson over the killing in Ferguson, Missouri was followed by another grand jury decision that also declined to charge another white policeman in the “chokehold” death in Staten Island of father-of-six Garner.
Their deaths, and that of 12-year-old Tamir Rice — shot dead last month by Cleveland police as he brandished a toy gun —unleashed simmering resentment of police tactics in the United States and underlined the distrust many African-American men feel towards law enforcement.
Rice’s family and relatives of Trayvon Martin— shot and killed in Florida by a neighborhood watchman in 2012— were also at the march.
Several thousand people massed shouting “No justice, no peace!” — a signature chant of the nationwide demonstrations — as Garner’s widow took to the stage before the energized crowd, vowing to stand up for all potential victims in honor of her slain husband.
“I am here not only for marching for Eric Garner, but for everyone’s daughters and sons and nieces and nephews and dads and moms,” Esaw Garner said.
Some in the crowd, which was made up of black and white people, held aloft banners proclaiming, “Stop racist police,” “I can’t breathe,” and “President Obama seize this moment. The ancestors are watching.”
“I can’t breathe” were the last words uttered by Garner, whom police wrestled to the ground in New York’s Staten Island for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.
In downtown New York, thousands more gathered despite chilly temperatures, with protesters shouting “We will shut New York City down” and “Black lives matter.”
Cole Fox, 24, a bartender, marched with his mother and held a banner reading, “Grand Jury Reform Now.”
“Fundamental changes need to be made.It’s just a matter of days before the next person, black or white, is killed,” he said.
There was also a small street protest in Boston.