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Vol. 78/No. 32      September 15, 2014

(front page)
March in Staten Island protests
cops’ killings of Garner, Brown

Militant/Brian Williams
Thousands take part Aug. 23 in Staten Island march to protest brutality and killings by police.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Thousands took to the streets here Aug. 23 to demand prosecution of police officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner by chokehold and to protest the recent gunning down of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. It was the largest demonstration yet against the July 17 killing of Garner, with prominent trade union participation.

Marchers chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” the chant of the Ferguson protesters, and “I can’t breathe!” In a widely watched cellphone video taken by a bystander, Garner told cops, “I can’t breathe,” 11 times.

“I saw cops surround Eric that night,” Frederick Winship, 59, told the Militant. “They knocked him to the ground and chokeholded him. It was totally unwarranted.”

Police accosted Garner for allegedly selling “loosie” cigarettes, employing deadly force after Garner protested: “Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today! … I’m minding my business, please just leave me alone.”

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan announced Aug. 19 that a grand jury will convene in September to consider criminal charges after the city medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide.

The protest was organized by the National Action Network, the NAACP, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the United Federation of Teachers. Speakers included Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network; George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU; and David Paterson, former New York state governor. Eric Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, took part in the march and rally. Other speakers at the rally included Kadiatou Diallo, whose unarmed son Amadou was shot 41 times by police in the Bronx in 1999, and Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed 18-year-old shot to death by the police in 2012.

“People should be accountable for what they do,” said George Mizell, 74, a retired union apprenticeship coordinator whose son Irving Mizell died last year in custody of police from the 120th Precinct, the same precinct where Garner was killed.

Ronald Harris, 74, marched carrying the funeral program for his son Ronald Harris, Jr., who also died in police custody last year at the age of 47 after being picked up on a warrant for having an open beer can. “The cops said he hanged himself with his belt,” Harris said, “but he never wore a belt.” “The cops are the criminals here,” said Shaki Campbell, 35, a hotel maintenance worker who lives in Staten Island. “If I killed someone, I’d be arrested and on my way to trial. That officer should be in jail facing trial.”

Mike Montijo, 42, a union electrician, described a run-in with New York police six months ago, when the cops accused him of robbing a store. “It was mistaken identity,” he said. Cops broke his arm. “This demonstration opens up people’s eyes. It’s not just Black and white, it’s blue — they’re the biggest gang in New York. Everyone is supposed to be equal, but we’re getting judged, juried, and convicted on street corners.”
Related articles:
‘Now the world knows about our experiences in Ferguson’
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