Brooklyn Heights

Brooklynites protest Ferguson grand jury decision in front of federal courthouse

November 26, 2014 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Ferguson, Missouri, is nearly 1,000 miles away, but that didn’t stop crowds of people in Brooklyn from protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown. One of several New York City rallies took place in front of the federal courthouse in Cadman Plaza on Tuesday.

“The system, as it exists right now, as far as getting justice in certain situations, needs to be changed,” said Jae Spencer, of the Central Brooklyn chapter of National Action Network. “It needs a complete overhaul. It’s really unfair that it turns out the way it turns out when situations such as this recent one occur. Things happen, bad things happen, but there is a way to handle it, and this is not right.”

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Communities for Change and members of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) organized the rally, which was arranged directly in front of the federal courthouse to send a message. It was one of 28 similar protests organized by NAN throughout the country.

“Whether we’re talking about a grand jury in Ferguson or a grand jury in Staten Island, we do not have much faith,” said Kirsten John Foy, Northeast regional director for the NAN. “We’re calling upon the federal government to intervene. We are not going to allow the memories of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and the countless others to be unheard and swept under the rug.

“We want the federal government to know that we’re serious about this,” Foy continued. “This is not inconsistent with what we’re saying. The federal government needs to intervene, so we’re here at a federal courthouse.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer made an appearance at the rally and asserted that the problem in Ferguson extends to New York City, and that improvements need to be made within the system.

“Today is about healing and recognizing that there are inherent problems in this country as it relates to police and community balance,” Stringer said. “There are too many children getting shot and too many kids that feel they can’t go to the police. That must change.

“People question the verdict, and they want to have a discussion about police-community relations in the city. People don’t want to see children put in harm’s way. We have to have a larger dialogue about where we go from here.”

Those at the Brooklyn rally condemned the looting that occurred in Ferguson the night the grand jury announcement was made. Foy added that violence is counterproductive to the goal of the protests.

“We are calling upon the few knuckleheads — this wasn’t the actions of the majority — we are calling them to cease and desist, or maybe we’ll have to act as law enforcement on our own and turn them in,” Foy said. “This is too serious to allow a few knuckleheads to derail the entire movement for justice for Michael and everyone else we’re fighting for.”

Some protesters suggested that a better alternative to looting and violence would be to boycott Black Friday.

“We have to make our voice heard, and that comes through in economic power, so there has been a call to boycott Black Friday because money talks,” said Brooklynite Shannon Cohall.

Some said they were protesting because they feared for their own friends and family.

“It comes to the point where you say, ‘What can we do, what should we do?’” Miss G. Davis said. “People are protesting because they see their child, they see themselves, they see a connection to what’s happening.

“When something happens to one person of the community it happens to all of us, so when the thumb hurts, the hand isn’t as viable as it could be. Seeing someone shot and hurt, they’re kind of seeing it as this could be my son, this could be my husband, this could be me.”

On Tuesday night, protesters attempted to cross the Williamsburg Bridge, but were blocked off by police, as reported by CBS.  Protesters later marched across the Manhattan Bridge and to Barclays Center.  


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