Protests have erupted across the US after a grand jury refused to indict a white police officer in the choking death of a black man, prompting activists to announce a national march to the capital to decry Washington’s failure to bring justice for African-Americans.
The New York Police Department arrested dozens of people Wednesday night demonstrating against a Staten Island grand jury decision not to charge New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner on July 17.
The protesters were arrested near the Rockefeller Center.
There were separate protests in other locations of the city, including Times Square and the great hall of Grand Central Station.
The demonstrators held placards with messages such as “Black Lives Matter,” and “Respect human lives.”
Similar demonstrations have been held in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Oakland.
Protesters in Ferguson also quickly took to the streets, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death in August by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Last week, a St. Louis grand jury refused to indict Wilson and the decision sparked nationwide protests.
The chokehold death of Garner, a father of six and grandfather of two, was recorded on videos that have been widely seen and have contributed to the public outrage. In the video, Garner repeatedly told police officers “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”
“It’s a very painful day for many New Yorkers,” Bill de Blasio, the New York mayor said in a late afternoon news conference. “No family should have to go through what the Garner family went through.”
African-American civil rights activist Al Sharpton on Wednesday announced a national march in Washington DC planned for December 13.
“We are dealing with a national crisis,” Sharpton said surrounded by Garner’s family, including his widow Esaw and mother Gwen Carr.
Late Wednesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder sought to allay tensions by announcing that the Justice Department will conduct an independent civil rights investigation into the death of Garner.
The US has recently been confronted with a series of images of police brutality, where unarmed black men have died after encounters with police.
Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio was fatally shot after a police officer mistook his toy gun for a real one.
Based on a recent study by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, 313 black people were killed in 2012 by police officers, private security guards and members of the public and in most cases, the perpetrator was not indicted.