Thousands rally across US in solidarity with Ferguson
Tensions continue to mount in Ferguson, Missouri, as police respond with a heavy show of force against protesters, thousands of people across the country on Thursday attended protest vigils for an unarmed black Missouri teenager fatally shot by a white police officer and other victims who organizers say died as a result of police brutality.
The vigils, observed in more than 90 cities as part of a National Moment of Silence, came days after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the death of a New York man caused by a police officer’s chokehold.
NYPD threatens mass arrests at Ferguson solidarity rally
Thousands of people in New York rallied in solidarity with residents of Ferguson on Thursday, showing support to people across the US who have been victims of police brutality. The NYPD threatened mass arrests if people did not stop blocking traffic.
The New York City Police Department has arrested at least four people during a peaceful rally intended to pay tribute to Michael Brown and others who have suffered from police brutality.
Thousands of protesters left their original rally location at New York’s Union Square and descended upon Times Square, ignoring police orders to stay on the sidewalk. As a result, police began cordoning protesters at 42nd Street and 9th Avenue. Demonstrators flooded social media, complaining that officers had kettled them and refused to let them go. No police in riot gear were at the scene, however, nor was any tear gas used as in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday.
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A number of arrests were made as the situation escalated, although the exact number remains unclear. Eventually, police told protesters they would be able to leave, but that if they returned to the current location and blocked the traffic again they would be arrested.
In downtown St. Louis, in a tiny park near the Gateway Arch, several hundred people, seemingly an equal number whites and blacks, gathered in Brown’s memory.
The site is a short drive from suburban Ferguson, where Brown was killed, stoking racial unrest. In Ferguson, two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are black and all but three of the 53 police officers are white.
The St. Louis gathering was peaceful in contrast with a night of looting and clashes between demonstrators and police in Ferguson earlier in the week.
The attendees included Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, who didn’t address the crowd but waved, drawing applause as she wiped away tears.
The observance was among many staged nationwide, each with a minute of silence for Brown and others who died at the hands of police.
In Orlando, Florida, about 15 miles outside the Sanford suburb where unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman in 2012, a multicultural crowd of about 100 people gathered in front of a park amphitheater.
One woman carried a sign that read:
“No Justice, No Peace. We Stand With Ferguson.” Another man’s sign said: “Hands up. Don’t Shoot! RIP Mike Brown.”
In Nevada, about 40 people gathered outside the federal courthouse in Reno, and dozens gathered in Seattle, holding up signs that read “Unite Against Racism” and “Solidarity With Ferguson.”