Thousands rally in US cities to protest police killings
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the US capital and cities across the country on Saturday, demanding justice for black men killed by white police.
The rallies in Washington, New York, Boston and in several Californian cities were among the largest in a growing protest movement sparked by the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug 9.
Grand jury decisions not to prosecute the white officers responsible for 18-year-old Brown’s death and a fatal chokehold on father-of-six Eric Garner in July have triggered weeks of protests.
A sea of demonstrators shut down parts of Manhattan and Washington with cries of “No justice, no peace!”, "Justice Now!” and “The whole damn system is guilty as hell!”
Though police in Washington did not provide an estimate of the crowd size, it appeared far larger than the 5,000 people organisers initially said they’d expected.
In New York, police said approximately 25,000 took to the streets. The organisers of Millions March NYC tweeted that 50,000 people turned out. Their Facebook page had said that 48,000 would take part.
The mixed crowds of black and white mobilised many young people but also families, children, parents and the elderly.
They held aloft banners proclaiming “I can’t breathe” – the last words uttered repeatedly by Mr Garner as police wrestled him to the ground for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes in New York.
A string of deaths at the hands of officers have inflamed resentment against police tactics in the US and distrust many blacks feel toward law enforcement.
The D.C. march and the New York march was peaceful with no arrests. In Boston, however, multiple arrests were made when protesters clashed with police.
Police officers scuffling with protesters in Boston during a demonstration on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Relatives of African Americans killed by officers in similar incidents dating back more than a decade shared a stage in Washington on Saturday to call on Congress to make changes in the criminal justice system.
Mr Garner’s wife, Esaw, said: "I am here not only for marching for Eric Garner, but for everyone’s daughters and sons and nieces and nephews and dads and mums."
Ms Esaw Garner (left), the widow of Eric Garner, speaking in Washington on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Mr Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said the protests would continue until lawmakers respond to demands for reform.
"This is a history-making moment," she said as onlookers erupted in cheers.
Sources: AFP, Washington Post, Xinhua