Eric Garner Protests Will Disrupt Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree-Lighting

The Rockefeller Center Tree
The Rockefeller Center Tree
Photo credit: joeypedras via Compfight cc

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:

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:

Activists are also calling for protests to continue tomorrow at Foley Square in Staten Island.

UPDATE: As protests begin, a group of people in Grand Central Station are staging a die-in:

Others are gathered in Union Square:

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."

Send news tips to ktoth@villagevoice.com Follow @kat_toth on Twitter


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