Eric Garner Protests Will Disrupt Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree-Lighting
A host of protest plans throughout Manhattan have cropped up as word spreads that a grand jury did not indict New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was captured on video in July using an apparent chokehold that killed 43-year-old Eric Garner on Staten Island.
One of the protests involves marching to midtown to interrupt the iconic annual lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center:
— Caleb-Michael Files (@_calebfiles) December 3, 2014
The tree, which Rockefeller Center refers to on its website as a "worldwide symbol of the holidays," is lit with much fanfare each year. This year, Mariah Carey is expected to appear live, having failed to arrive on time last night for a scheduled taping of her performance.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has already announced that he will be skipping the ceremony to be in Staten Island, despite the mayor typically playing a central role in the lighting of the tree itself. Police representatives have said they plan to hold the event as scheduled.
A Facebook event encouraged protesters to convene at Union Square at 5 p.m. December 3, then head to midtown at 6.
"We all saw the video of cops choking the life out of Eric Garner back in July. We heard him struggle to get the words out, 'I can't breathe,' again and again," reads the description on the Facebook page. "We must refuse to accept this crap anymore."
The event appears to have been organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, a group that has been at the forefront of NYC protests against a St. Louis County grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown in August, two weeks after Garner was killed. Garner and Brown were black; Pantaleo and Wilson are white.
Stop Mass Incarceration has not returned a phone call from the Voice seeking comment.
Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street has called for protesters to meet at Times Square at the same time:
Justice for Eric Garner, Mike Brown & countless others murdered w/ impunity by cops. #ThisStopsToday. New York: meet @ Times Sq. 5pm.
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) December 3, 2014
Activists are also calling for protests to continue tomorrow at Foley Square in Staten Island.
For #EricGarner TODAY: Time Sq 5pm Tree Lighting 7pm Union Sq 5/6pm Church/Nostrand 6p
TOMORROW #ThisStopsToday Action NYC: Foley Sq 530pm
— #ThisStopsToday (@thisstopstoday) December 3, 2014
— NYCLU (@NYCLU) December 3, 2014
UPDATE: As protests begin, a group of people in Grand Central Station are staging a die-in:
— ANIMALNewYork (@ANIMALNewYork) December 3, 2014
Others are gathered in Union Square:
— Zach Williams (@zachejwilliams) December 3, 2014
Meanwhile, activist group Peoples Power Assemblies is encouraging people to head to Union Square at 7 p.m. and go to Rockefeller Center "any time."
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