Two Grand Jury decisions from two states caused New York City to erupt in protests in the last week. Two days before Thanksgiving, thousands hit the streets to call for justice for Michael Brown the day after a Missouri Grand Jury failed to indict his killer, and on December 4th protesters flooded the roads again in the name of Eric Garner the day after a New York Grand Jury.
Police didn't offer much resistance to protesters on the 25th. Several groups totaling thousands charged around Manhattan, covering over 100 blocks from Foley Square, up FDR drive completely shutting it down, and back across Manhattan to the West Side Highway. Where police set up blockades to highways, bridges, or tunnels, protesters broke through or rapidly circumvented them. At various times during the night two highways, a tunnel and 3 bridges were shut down.
The second Grand Jury decision arrived just as Ferguson solidarity protests began to die out. As if acting in concert with the decision, police broke out the batons, pepper spray, and cuffs. A more potent catalyst could not have been designed in protection of a less worthy decision; while leadership offered body cameras as a pacifier, a police officer caught strangling a man to death on camera was left uncharged.
Intersections were cleared with indiscriminate firing of pepper spray. Public spaces were blocked by baton-wielding cops. Whenever the crowd splintered in fear, despotic white-shirts (lieutenants) ordered New York's finest to pick off stragglers. In one of these moments of disorder and confusion, while I watched protesters try to flee without disintegrating the rally, I was grabbed from behind. There were about 200 arrests that night, predominately in the Times Square area.
The officers upon whose shoulders fell the grunt work were, nearly without exception, exactly of the type apologists refer to - ("police violence can't be an epidemic! I know some nice cops. They're not racist!"). They made an effort to cut cuffs that were turning protesters' hands purple. They spent the entire night working on paperwork while we sat in the pen. When a protester had no ID, his handler lied to a commanding officer to keep him from being booked for another day. Many didn't support the mass arrests, and a few even agreed that the Garner case needed more examination. But when white-shirts grabbed our shackled arms and stared into our faces from inches away saying "I remember the faces of anarchists," the blues tacked on charges without resistance. Disorderly conduct, four counts. Blocking government actions. Resisting arrest, disturbing the peace. "Move your bodies to the back of the line, officer. We need to process these faster."
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