Eric Garner protests continue in NYC, 200 plus arrests
NEW YORK CITY -- Thousands of protesters took to the streets of New York on Friday in a third day of demonstrations against police violence, even as prosecutors said they would consider charges against an officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in November. 200 demonstrators have been arrested so far.
The shooting of Akai Gurley, 28, in a dimly lit stairwell in Brooklyn added to a string of police actions involving unarmed black men that have inflamed racial tensions throughout the U.S.
Since Wednesday, when a Staten Island, Richmond County, grand jury cleared white police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July chokehold death of 43-year-old father-of-six Eric Garner, New York has seen two nights of angry but largely peaceful demonstrations.
The decision was announced nine days after another grand jury declined to indict a white policeman for the killing in August of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, spurring rioting in the St. Louis suburb.
On Thursday in Phoenix, Arizona, another unarmed black man was shot dead by a white police officer during a scuffle, leading to protests there.
"The government has created a monster and the monster is now loose," said Soraya Soi Free, 45, a nurse from the Bronx who has been protesting in New York.
A wake for Gurley is scheduled for Friday night, with his funeral to follow on Saturday.
Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton had initially planned to speak but said late Friday he would pay his respects without making an address.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said on Friday he will convene a grand jury to consider charges against the officer who shot Gurley. Police officials have said the officer, Peter Liang, may have accidentally discharged his gun.
At a press conference with Gurley's relatives on Friday, Kevin Powell, the president of the advocacy group BK Nation, called the shooting part of a "series of modern-day lynchings."
Gurley's mother, Sylvia Palmer, tearfully demanded justice for her son.
In Cleveland on Friday, the family of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police filed a lawsuit against the city, a day after the federal government found the police department systematically uses excessive force.
New York police have taken a soft approach during this week's protests, generally allowing marchers to proceed unhindered.
Tensions briefly erupted late Thursday in Times Square as a multiracial crowd of about 3,000 protesters blocked a major intersection, chanting at police, "Who do you protect?"
Hundreds of officers responded, shoving protesters onto sidewalks. A police spokesman said Friday more than 200 had been arrested.