Protesters converged on Fifth Avenue last night to continue protesting the deaths of men like Eric Garner at the hands of the police, ignoring for a second night in a row Mayor de Blasio's plea that they pause demonstrations until after the funerals of two executed police officers. Among the words they chanted: "NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?”
Police Officer Rafael Ramos, 40, and partner Police Officer Wenjian Liu, 32, were fatally shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. The killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, turned the gun on himself on a subway platform after being pursued by police. It appears that Brinsley, who shot his girlfriend in Maryland earlier that day, took the ongoing protests over Garner's and Michael Brown's deaths as motivation to kill the cops. (Police Commissioner Bratton has blamed the protests as well.) Brinsley's family has also said that he was mentally ill and that he was "spiraling out of control."
One organizer, Sumumba Sobukwe, told the Daily News, "What we’re doing is exercising our constitutional right." From the News:
As throngs marched Tuesday night, cops wearing black bands over their badges in mourning for the murdered officers — Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu — tried to keep protesters from clogging streets.
While initially marching on the sidewalk, a group of about 700 protesters poured into the middle of E. 77th St. about 8 p.m., blocking traffic near Madison Ave. Some protesters hurled insults at cops, chanting “NYPD racists” and “cowards and murderers.”
When the group reached 125th St. in Harlem and joined with protesters who had marched down from Bronx, things turned ugly, as demonstrators chanted, “F--- the police!”
“Mayor de Blasio didn’t start the protest, and he doesn’t tell us when to finish,” said Argenys Tavaras, 29.
Robert Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project, said, "We object to some people painting us with an ‘anti-cop’ brush. The charge does not apply. We are anti-NYPD practices, such as the quota driven ‘broken windows’ approach to policing which targets low-income people of color."
Protester Larry Holmes, a 62-year-old retired union organizer, said the mayor's request for a pause in protests only served to energize the activists, telling the Wall Street Journal, "The basis of that statement is that the protests are somehow responsible. To take that suggestion seriously would be to accept that idea."