The Rev. Al Sharpton led thousands of marchers in a peaceful rally across the New York City borough of Staten Island to protest the choke hold death of an unarmed black father of six by a white police officer, the Associated Press reports.
An estimated 2,500 people marched in a call for justice for Eric Garner, 43, who died July 17 on a busy sidewalk after a New York City police officer placed him in a choke hold, a tactic that has been banned for 20 years. A bystander captured the scene on a cellphone video.
Sharpton was joined by former New York Gov. David Paterson, civil rights leaders and Garner’s family, the report says.
“This is a Birmingham, Alabama, moment!” the Rev. Herbert Daughtry said to about 100 demonstrators at a Staten Island church before the march, AP writes. Then he asked people who had been harassed, humiliated or disrespected by police to stand. Almost everyone did, the report says.
Garner’s death reignited a national debate about the use of excessive force against blacks by police officers. And it came just weeks before Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., would gun down unarmed black teen Michael Brown on Aug. 9.
Brown’s shooting sparked angry protests that resulted in days of unrest in Ferguson as protesters and police squared off, sometimes in front of television news cameras.
Marchers in New York City on Saturday borrowed a slogan from protests in Ferguson: “Hands up, don’t shoot,” AP writes. The slogan is in an apparent nod to witness assertions in Ferguson that Wilson fired at Brown even though his hands were up in acquiescence to the officer.
The New York Post, long known as a bastion of conservatism, seized the moment to run a front-page cover supporting the police department, saying, “As many march today against the NYPD … we give our support to New York’s Finest.” But protesters remained peaceful and no arrests were made, the report says.