Both organized and spontaneous marches of hundreds and at times thousands of enraged people exploded across Manhattan the night of Dec. 3 demanding an indictment of Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death in Staten Island. The police continually tried to halt the march, divide the protests and corral people up, at some points dangerously pushing hundreds of people into confined spaces. But the crowd would not be deterred and continually defied police orders shutting down Broadway, the West Side Highway and other major arteries of the city. In the words of one Harlem mother: “We have to be here. This is for our babies. No one family should have to lose a loved one to racist police violence.”
The march began at 6 pm at Union Square and worked its way uptown attempting to make a statement to all of New York City and the world by interrupting the tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller center. In plain view of tourists and families visiting the tree, the police heightened their repression forcing the “undesirable” mobilization uptown. Through the use of barricades the police divided the march in two. One group then defiantly marched up to 125th St the–central corridor of Harlem–where gentrification and police brutality are issues that resonate with the community.
Dozens of youth and families from Harlem joined the march ultimately taking the lead. In the words of one father: “There is nowhere else for to be right now than in the streets for Eric and everyone else we have lost.”
The demonstration of hundreds then staged a die in blocking 125th St. and Lexington before surrounding the 25th precinct and denouncing the police-–now decked out in riot gear- -for the crimes they are guilty of, systematic harassment, humiliation, and violence against Black and Brown people. The crowd then staged a rally in the King Towers housing projects, where our ranks swelled, before marching south and uniting with another march of hundreds that was coming uptown on Broadway.
The police did everything in their power to prevent the unification of the two marches, ultimately corralling us up like animals on sidewalks where we could not even safely stand. We were held by riot police for half an hour before being released. As we made our way back to our respective communities we all made a vow to be back out there in the streets the next night for Eric Garner, Mike Brown and all of the victims of the murderous police departments across this country. No Justice No Peace!