Garner protesters swarm Downtown for second night

Garner protesters swarm Downtown for second night
Photo by Paul Martinka

Hundreds of protesters marched across the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and sat down in front of Barclays Center on Thursday evening during a second night of protests decrying a grand jury’s decision not to charge NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo with a crime for choking Gowanus native Eric Garner to death on Staten Island in July.

In a more widely attended repeat of the Wednesday night demonstrations that followed the decision, activists gathered in Manhattan and fanned out, clogging traffic and transit points throughout the borough. One faction of a few hundred surged across the Brooklyn-bound side of the Brooklyn Bridge roadway at about 7:30 pm, some carrying signs and black coffins. The procession continued up Flatbush Avenue to Atlantic Avenue, where protesters held a “die-in,” lying in the street for seven minutes in symbolic commemoration of the time Garner lay on the street without police or paramedics’ assistance.

Some protesters continued onto Fulton Mall, while others returned to Manhattan, this time across the Manhattan Bridge roadway. Police blocked Manhattan-bound traffic at around 10 pm for the marchers to proceed. Some protesters sat down on the bridge and were arrested.

The NYPD said more than 200 people were arrested across the city in connection with the protests, most of them charged with disorderly conduct. Among those was Brooklyn Paper reporter Noah Hurowitz, who officers grabbed along with more than a dozen others out of an agitated crowd in Times Square. Police charged Hurowitz, who was photographing and live-tweeting the demonstration, with disorderly conduct and released him around 5 am with a desk appearance ticket.

An officer smacked Hurowitz’s phone out of his hand minutes before another singled him out for arrest.

Garner’s death first prompted outcry this summer when a video surfaced showing an upset Garner, who bystanders said had just broken up a fight, telling police to leave him alone, and Pantaleo choking him to the ground from behind. In the video, Garner says “I can’t breathe” 11 times. Subsequently released footage showed paramedics and police milling around Garner’s unmoving body for several minutes without moving to assess or treat his condition.

The medical examiner later ruled the death a homicide caused by compression of his neck and subsequent compression of his chest after Pantaleo had brought him down.

Brooklyn federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch is now investigating the death, as is the Police Department.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.