Thousands of people gathered on New York’s Staten Island on Saturday as they protested against police violence and called for justice in the case of an unarmed man killed by an officer via an illegal chokehold.
Organized by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network advocacy group, the #WeWillNotGoBackmarch attracted close to 3,000 people from across New York City and New Jersey, according to initial estimates by the police.
Protesters marched through the streets, chanting against police brutality and holding up numerous signs, many of which read, “Respect Human Rights.” Others featured statements like, “The police are criminals, not our youth,” and, “We seek justice, not violence.”
The event specifically highlighted the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, who was killed in July after a New York Police Department officer placed him in a chokehold for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. With the additional help of other law enforcement officials, the 43-year-old father of six was taken to the ground, where he repeatedly complained that he could not breathe. However, video of the incident shows that police did not seem to respond to his objections.
The Reverend Al Sharpton (C) marches with protesters at a rally against police brutality in memory of Eric Garner August 23, 2014 in Staten Island, New York. The New York City medical examiner’s office ruled that Garner, the 43-year-old father of six, died from a chokehold and chest compressions while being arrested by the police on July 17, 2014 (AFP Photo / Stan Honda)
The city’s medical examiner ruled Garner died as a result of the chokehold – a move which is banned by the NYPD – and declared his death a homicide. The officer who performed the chokehold has yet to be charged with a crime, and that has triggered harsh criticism from African Americans and others in the community who say police continue to apply excessive and deadly force against black, unarmed men.
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