On the one year anniversary of a grand jury's decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner with the use of a chokehold on Staten Island, dozens rallied near Gracie Mansion demanding that Mayor de Blasio take action. Just over 60 demonstrators, many affiliated with the Justice League NYC, gathered at the protest, which culminated in the systematic arrest of 23 people after a crowd moved to the middle of East End Avenue and refused to leave the street.
— Jim Kast-Keat (@IdeasDoneDaily) December 3, 2015
An NYPD spokesperson said that those detained were charged with refusal to disperse and disorderly conduct, and amongst the crowd gathered on East End Avenue Thursday night, word spread that they were taken to the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights.
"They got down on their knees in the middle of the street, and kept chanting for the mayor to come out," Melody Davis Joyce, 26, of the Bronx said. Chanting Garner's last dying words, "I can't breathe!," protesters were arrested methodically after multiple warnings from police. "It wasn't violent," Joyce said, "but it was extremely emotional, because of the tragedy of Garner's death."
One woman who was taken away by officers shouted to the crowd "Disclaimer, I am not suicidal! If I am arrested and put in jail, I am not suicidal!" Others shouted back in acknowledgement, recalling the disputed death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail earlier this year.
— Justice League NYC (@NYjusticeleague) December 4, 2015
One year ago, following the news that there would be no indictment for Pantaleo, thousands took to the streets in protests that shut down major Manhattan thoroughfares, the West Side Highway, and the Brooklyn Bridge. On that night 83 people were arrested, and demonstrations continued throughout the following days. Thursday night's protest was greatly diminished in scope and lasted less than two hours. Police officers confined demonstrators to the western sidewalk of East End Avenue, nearly 100 yards from Gracie Mansion itself. Still, those gathered were determined to get through to Mayor de Blasio.
"Who knows, he's probably not even there, or in there watching TV and relaxing," said Keila Fontanez, 24, of Brooklyn, who held a sign that read "Racism is Terrorism" over her head. "I might not have much of a voice, but if we unite, maybe he'll hear us."
By 7 p.m. the rally was effectively over, and only a handful of protesters remained outside near Gracie Mansion.
"It's terrible," Joyce said as she prepared to leave. "Knowing that his wife, and his kids, have to go another year knowing that he was murdered in the streets. Another year without their father."
— The Black Institute (@TheBlackInst) December 4, 2015
In July, Garner's family agreed to accept a $5.9 million settlement from the city. "No sum of money can make this family whole, but hopefully the Garner family can find some peace and finality from today's settlement,” Mayor de Blasio said as the settlement was announced. “By reaching a resolution, family and other loved ones can move forward even though we know they will never forget this tragic incident."