New York City

Millions March NYC: ‘Deeper than Black’

December 14, 2014 By Meghan McDonald Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“This is deeper than black,” protester Michael, 24, of New Jersey, said at the Millions March NYC on Saturday near Herald Square. Photo by Meghan McDonald

Some were there independently or with friends and family, protesting the recent grand jury decisions not to indict the officers involved in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown killings.  

Others joined with their feminist, pacifist or socialist groups, bringing their organizations together to join in protest with thousands.

The Millions March NYC demonstration grew to more than 25,000 marchers throughout the streets of New York on Saturday, as reported by The Associated Press.

The march began near Washington Square Park and continued through Chelsea and into Union Square, with the crowds stretching to about a mile long at its peak. 

Chants were heard, ranging from “I can’t breathe” to “hands up, shoot back” as marchers caught the attention of Christmas shoppers in commercialized areas.

In the evening, the marchers split into several groups, with several thousand streaming over the Brooklyn Bridge, snarling traffic in Downtown Brooklyn as they headed to Barclays Center for a die-in.

Not all was peaceful. In the first incident of violence during almost two weeks of marches, two police officers were attacked on the Brooklyn Bridge. Debris was thrown at the officers — something cops called “airmail” — and the officers were thrown to the ground, kicked and hit. According to 101WINS, the group tried to steal their radios and police jackets.

The officers were transported to a hospital to recover; one reportedly suffered a broken nose.

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Police also reported finding hammers in the backpack of one of the marchers, who fled.

Early Sunday, police arrested Brooklynite Eric Linsker, 29, in relation to the Brooklyn Bridge violence.  Linsker was charged with two counts of robbery, two counts of assaulting an officer, two counts for resisting arrest, two counts for rioting, two counts for reckless endangerment and two counts for obstructing governmental administration, according to the DCPI.  He was also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

Linsker is an English professor at Baruch College and lives in Crown Heights.

He is being held at the 5th Precinct station in Chinatown.  

“We will not allow a small contingent of agitators to bring disorder and violence to these protests,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Saturday night. “Those who reject peaceful protest and provoke violence can expect immediate arrest and prosecution. Such acts are beneath the dignity of New York City, they undermine the very values these protests are working to advance, and they simply will not be tolerated.”

The vast majority of those marching were peaceful and respectful of the police, however.

“I love the turnout based on the variety of race and age that’s all over this area,” said Dlontae Sewell, 22, of D.C. “As a black male, I want to see where everybody stands on things like this, especially when it comes to blacks being victims of police all over the nation.”

Brooklynite Marisa Gordon, 24, said she was at the march to “seek justice for an unjust system.”  

“I can’t even tell how grandiose it is because I can’t see where it begins or ends,” Gordon said.  “I think we are all in solidarity for wanting justice, especially for black lives.”

Some protesters played musical instruments to liven up the crowd. Photo by Meghan McDonaldHowever, some protesters said the march’s purpose had expanded.

“I have a sign that says ‘black lives matter,’ but this is perspective,” said Michael, 29, of New Jersey. “This is for everyone out here; this is deeper than black.”  
Michael would not provide his last name.

The Brooklyn Eagle reached out to five police officers for comment, but all declined.  Officers were lined along the streets, some guarding metal fences that blocked off the sidewalks.  

Bystander Anna, 35, of D.C., said she was Christmas shopping near Union Square when she ran into the marchers.  

“I am watching and supporting the protesters as a bystander,” she said with shopping bags along the sidewalk, as the massive crowd passed. “I think it’s wonderful that people are taking it to the street and fighting for justice — it’s been long enough.”

Among the thousands gathered, Party for Socialism and Liberation held a banner that read: “Stop racist police brutality.”

Feminist and transnational group AF3IRM held a banner that read “feminists on the move,” as well as posters that had female victims’ photos on them, including Yvette Smith, who was killed in Texas by a police officer.

At Union Square. Photo by Mary Frost

Others held signs that read, “End the drug war,” making it a melting pot march for many causes.

“I like the diversity of the march,” said Lennie Dukes, 33, of Ohio. “I think it’s one focus, but there are other focuses that have joined in to have one uniformed focus.”

In Brooklyn, several large groups chanting, “Shut it down!” marched over the Brooklyn Bridge and down the middle of major roadways including Tillary Street, Atlantic Avenue, Smith Street and Eastern Parkway, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Thousands of marchers crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Mary Frost

Phalanxes of police officers set up orange netting across Tillary Street to block marchers from heading west. Dozens of NYPD vehicles, parked on Tillary and on Cadman Plaza West., took off after the marchers as they headed into Downtown Brooklyn.

There were at least two die-ins at Barclays Center. Police estimated that 2,000 demonstrators participated in the largest one. Another group, estimated at 1,500 by police, held a die-in in the middle of Eastern Parkway near Nostrand.

Marches took place nationwide in cities including Washington, D.C., Nashville and others.   

Protesters embrace at the start of the march. Photo by Meghan McDonald
Additional reporting by Mary Frost

This story was updated Sunday morning to reflect the injuries to the officers and the apprehension of one of the suspects.

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