Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered in Union Square Park last night to observe a “National Moment of Silence” for Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose shooting death at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri has sparked nationwide protests against racial profiling and police brutality.
By the time Bedford + Bowery arrived on the scene around 7:45 p.m., many had already poured onto Broadway and marched north toward Times Square. But even as the vigil turned into a boisterous roving rally, hundreds remained in Union Square, holding candles and placards and occasionally chanting “No justice! No peace!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
While some posters and public speakers called for justice in the Ferguson shooting, others expressed outrage over stop and frisk, police commissioner William Bratton’s “broken windows” policy, and the recent choking death of Eric Garner. At least one sign invoked Trayvon Martin, whose death prompted a similar march from Union Square last July.
Compared to past demonstrations – and to the controversial show of police force at protests in Ferguson earlier this week – the police presence at Union Square was light by the time we arrived, with just a few officers milling around. But uptown, a livestream showed the sizable crowd of marchers being blocked by a wall of officers and then kettled on the sidewalk with nylon fencing as they reached the intersection of 42nd and Ninth Avenue. Many called out Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe!”
Eventually, protesters chanting “Let us go!” were gradually released from the kettle a handful at a time, but not before livestreamer Jason from the Internet filmed four people being placed in a police van.
The NYPD told the Daily News that five people were arrested and charged with resisting arrest, inciting riot, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.