Protests and rallies have become more prominent with the fatal police brutality incidents that have occurred in recent years, and last night was no exception. This past Thursday nearly 500 people gathered together at New York’s Union Square, to protest the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile that happened earlier this week.
The demonstrators, a diverse collection of people both young (many were students) and old, took to the streets of Manhattan, marching and screaming chants through the streets. Even media figures such as comedian and former Daily Show contributor Jessica Williams was present.
“Hands up don’t shoot!”
“Hey hey ho ho, killer cops have got to go!”
“What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
People took turns blocking traffic to make sure no one was hit by cars, while employees in nearby restaurants and stores stepped out to take video and voice their support. Tourists looked on puzzled, wondering why the protest was happening and hesitating to put their phones up to record. There was also one instance where a driver, frustrated by the demonstrators holding up traffic, jumped out of her car and began yelling at them. The protestors didn’t mind her however and kept moving onward, with some making their way towards the West Highway, while others headed to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Ultimately, the marchers made their way up to Times Square, where police officers commanded them to move out of the street and on to the sidewalk, unless they wanted to get arrested for disorderly conduct. Those that didn’t listen were zip-tied; there was even one moment where NYPD officers rushed a group of protestors who refused to move out of the intersection at 7th avenue and West 42nd Street. The dispersal wasn’t easy as protestors found alternative routes to march through. Overall, 42 protestors were arrested and placed on a city bus that took them to the department’s Central Booking office in Lower Manhattan.
Aside from the arrests made the protest went smoothly, with some continuing to march up to Harlem while others stayed behind.
On Thursday Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the shooting of Sterling and Castile stating, “I’m reeling after watching these videos… this is not what America is supposed to be.”
He also offered:
“No parent of color, or a parent of a child of color in this country can watch that and not be afraid. You feel for the life of that child when you see a situation like this. That’s the problem here, I have tremendous respect for law enforcement, but what the age of the cellphone video has done has made this very personal for many Americans. Every day we honor and respect everyone who is a part of law enforcement, but when you look at that video it begs the question: what kind of training did these officers receive, what were they told on how to do their job? Because it’s not the right way.”