I went out to Foley Square last night with Carly Larsson
, Evan Turk
, and Chris Brody to reportage the protest surrounding the decision not to indict the police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner. The first thing I noticed was how many people came out. I've seen estimates in the thousands, and that's just at Foley Square (here's a photo from above from Gothamist
). It was heartening to see so many New Yorkers come out to protest, and I was especially glad to see how diverse the crowd was. Especially at the beginning of the protest, many of the protesters were very young, possibly college or even high school students.
Unlike the Occupy
protest, some people had amplification, although to communicate with the whole crowd, the human microphone
was in full effect.
The protest moved down to the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge (which is only a few blocks from Foley Square). Since I was hanging back a bit from the main protest group to draw, the cops formed their line right in front of me. They made an intimidating barrier. Their commanding officer was telling them "shoulder to shoulder!" as they lined up.
Since the protesters were denied access to the bridge, they started marching back to Foley Square. A lot of people carried signs saying "Black lives matter" and "End police brutality," but I found these paper cutouts really haunting. Each one had the name of a black man killed by the police: Sean Bell, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, among others.
The protest left Foley Square so quickly, I actually lost them for a bit. I found them again down on Canal Street, at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. The protesters had moved to try to block the tunnel, but again had been turned back by the police. If I was intimidated by the uniforms and the numbers at Foley Square, it's nothing compared to how I felt seeing riot helmets and batons.
After that, the protest moved on without me. I went down there feeling pretty down about the state of our democracy, but going home I felt buoyed by the turnout of so many people who care about what goes on. I don't know if there are more protests planned, but if you're upset, even just a little, by police brutality and the lack of accountability, I encourage you to go and see or participate.