After weeks of demonstrations across New York City protesting the killing of black men by police officers, more than ten thousand protesters came together at Washington Square Park for the Millions March. Unlike previous protests, the march was heavily organized, with a large team of marshals directing the crowd and NYPD officers and barricades blocking side streets along the route. The march concluded at One Police Plaza with statements from family members of victims of police killings. Afterwards, groups of protestors split off, with many crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
Fresh off the news that Darren Wilson would not be indicted in Missouri, New Yorkers received news that hit closer to home: NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be indicted for killing Eric Garner on Staten Island. On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, when the news broke, protesters amassed all over the city. The NYPD, which had made relatively few arrests during the Wilson protests, responded with a much heavier hand. More than 80 people were arrested Wednesday.
Thursday, things were even bigger. Protesters met at Foley Square before marching throughout the city. Groups split off and headed towards the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the West Side Highway, and Whitehall Terminal. Protesters were mostly peaceful, but made some attempts to rip down barricades and get around the police. The NYPD responded with pepper spray, sound cannons, and a reported 223 arrests.
At this point, I don’t have to explain why a crowd of angry protesters amassed at Union Square in New York City on the evening of November 24, 2014. Earlier in the day, we had received word that a grand jury in St. Louis County had reached a decision on whether to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown.
Expecting a 6:00 p.m. announcement, the protest at Union Square began around 5:00. Members of the crowd spoke, sang, and chanted.
“Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
“Black lives matter!”
“N-Y-P-D, K-K-K! How many kids did you kill today?”
The announcement was pushed back to 9:00 p.m. The crowd stood strong. Finally, word started spreading of the decision, as predictable as it was disheartening.