Marchers swarm New York, other cities for second night over chokehold death

Marchers swarm New York, other cities for second night over chokehold death
A demonstrator protests recent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, at Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts December 4, 2014.

NEW YORK - Protesters swarmed streets of Manhattan and other cities for a second night of mostly peaceful rallies to denounce a New York grand jury's decision to spare a white police officer from criminal prosecution in the choking death of an unarmed black man.

The reaction to Wednesday's decision not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the videotaped confrontation that left 43-year-old Eric Garner dead echoed a wave of outrage sparked nine days earlier by a similar outcome in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri.

US Attorney General Eric Holder, who already has mounted a civil rights review of the Ferguson shooting, on Thursday promised a full probe of the New York case.

Pantaleo could still face disciplinary action from an internal police investigation, his lawyer said, adding that he expects that process to move quickly and that his client would be exonerated.

A departmental investigation will likely focus on whether Pantaleo employed a chokehold, banned by police department regulations, in restraining Garner as he and other officers sought to arrest him for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally on a Staten Island sidewalk in July.

In addition to triggering protests around the country, the New York and Missouri cases have re-ignited debate over a US law enforcement system widely perceived to unfairly target African Americans and other minorities.

SECOND NIGHT OF PROTESTS

Thousands of marchers snaked through the streets of Manhattan on Thursday night, beginning at the evening rush hour and picking up recruits along the way, often weaving between cars and trucks and bringing traffic to a near standstill.

Tensions rose as a crowd of at least 3,000 congregated in Times Square about an hour before midnight, shouting at police, "Who do you protect?" as hundreds more officers moved in to force protesters onto sidewalks. There were a number of arrests but no overt outbursts of violence.

Hours earlier, protesters parading through lower Manhattan staged sporadic sit-ins at intersections before police in riot gear warned them to move on or face arrest. Most marchers complied, and the atmosphere among the racially mixed crowd was boisterous, upbeat and mostly peaceful.

Sharon Gordon, 52, of Matawan, New Jersey, said she hoped politicians would take heed. "There's been a confluence of social media and outrage," she said. "I do believe for the first time we're about to make a change."

Subsequent waves of marchers later crossed two bridges connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, briefly blocking traffic, then converged on Manhattan's southern tip, at the ferry terminal for Staten Island.

The main group of demonstrators headed west and briefly closed the West Side Highway, resulting in at least a handful of arrests, before turning north again through Greenwich Village and Chelsea.

A smaller crowd confronted police with taunts. Chesray Dolpha, 31, yelled at the officers: "We are not violent. We are not touching you. What are you doing with that baton, brother?" The police made eye contact but did not reply.

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