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Dozens participate in die-in on the 5th month anniversary of Eric Garner’s death at the hands of the NYPD in front of the Bronx General Post Office on the Grand Concourse and 149th Street.

Since the December 3rd failure of a Grand Jury on Staten Island to indict the cops in the killing of Eric Garner, many peaceful protests have been held across the city by thousands of New Yorkers uniting for peace and justice against Police Brutality and the fact that so many cops never get indicted due to grand juries.

Tonight The Bronx saw hundreds come out to not only honor Eric Garner on the 5th month anniversary of his death but to demand justice and an end to the killing of so many black men and people of color at the hands of the NYPD — and across the nation.

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The march began in front of Hostos Community College at 6PM Wednesday evening and the group marched across the street to the front of the Bronx General Post Office where they held a die-in for 7 minutes (signifying the 7 minutes Garner was left unattended by the NYPD).

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Soon after the die-in the crowd began to sing, “I can still hear my brother crying, ‘I can’t breathe’, so now I’m in the struggle singing, ‘I can’t leave’, We calling out the violence of these racists police, and we ain’t gonna stop until our people are free”, a song written by Luke Nephew, Peace Poets.

Once done, the marchers headed east along 149th Street, past Lincoln Hospital continuing with the various chants of peace and justice.  Hundreds of pedestrians and commuters on buses that were passing by just stopped to take pictures and and chant in solidarity.  Even vehicles passing by honked in solidarity with the marchers.

Eventually the marchers arrived at Courtlandt Avenue and headed deeper into Melrose until 153rd Street where they turned and headed straight for the commercial heart of Melrose, The Hub.  Once on 3rd Avenue, dozens of more merchants and pedestrians continued to document the event and join in the chanting while others just continued on their way as if nothing was going on.

 

The marchers arrived at Roberto Clemente Plaza at 149th Street where Melrose, Willis and 3rd Avenues all intersect and more calls to action for justice continued.

It was there that I met with Eva Rosa who lives in Melrose at Michelangelo Apartments on 149th and Park Avenue.  When asked why she was here she said, “I live on the 19th floor and heard the chanting and singing and got dressed and came down to see what was going on. The security guard in my building explained about the marchers so I decided to join in.”

“I’m against police brutality, I’m against racism. This has to stop”, Rosa added.

Her friend Lisa Baez came down with her to support as well.  “I’m against all violence.  I lost my child, my daughter, back in 2010. She was murdered.”

#ThisStopsToday organized this event in Brooklyn and Manhattan as well.  The organization is:

“…is a collaboration of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), Million Hoodies and Freedom Side. CPR organizations that are leading this effort include: Justice Committee, Make the Road New York, VOCAL-NY, ColorofChange, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, New York Civil Liberties Union and Center for Popular Democracy.

 #ThisStopsToday convened to respond to the Staten Island grand jury’s expected failure to indict officers in the killing of Eric Garner, and to call for the end of discriminatory “broken windows” policing, characterized by aggressive enforcement of minor quality of life offenses, that led to the killing of Eric and brutality against too many othet New Yorkers. Together we organized the action of Thursday, December 4th, where over 10,000 New Yorkers joined us to protest in Foley Square. Many in our group were arrested in civil disobedience actions at the Manhattan Bridge and on the Upper West Side.”

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The organization has 11 demands (which is the number of times Eric Garner said he can’t breathe before he died at the hands of the NYPD) and they are as follows:

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR NYPD USE OF EXCESSIVE & DEADLY FORCE, AS WELL AS ABUSE

1)       Full accountability through NYPD disciplinary procedures and the criminal justice system for all NYPD officers responsible for killing Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and all officers who brutalize New Yorkers.

 2)       Department of Justice should convene grand juries to federally indict officers responsible for the killing of Eric Garner, as well as in other NYC cases such as Ramarley Graham.  (We are in solidarity with calls for federal charges in the killings of Michael Brown, John Crawford and others).

3)       Governor Cuomo should issue an executive order directing the Office of the Attorney General to serve as special prosecutor in cases involving civilians killed by police officers.

 4)       Governor Cuomo should veto legislation (S7801/A9853) that would allow police unions to make police disciplinary policies subject to contract negotiations. The legislation would undermine the ability of local government officials across New York State to discipline officers engaged in misconduct and brutality.

5)       End the NYPD Commissioner’s exclusive authority over disciplinary decisions for officers in cases of abuse, misconduct towards civilians, and excessive or deadly force.

 END DISCRIMINATORY AND ABUSIVE NYPD POLICIES & PRACTICES

 6)       Mayor de Blasio should end broken windows, and other discriminatory and abusive policing practices. This includes hyper-aggressive selective enforcement of low-level offenses, NYPD’s discriminatory arrests for violations (non-criminal offenses), enforcement of possession of small amounts of marijuana; blanket surveillance of Muslim communities and political activists.

7)       Mayor de Blasio should work with the City Council to pass the Right to Know Act to protect New Yorkers’ rights and improve daily interactions between NYPD officers and New Yorkers.

8)       The Floyd federal stop-and-frisk trial court-appointed monitor Peter Zimroth, the facilitator Judge Ariel Belen, and Mayor Bill de Blasio should ensure that organizations led by and for communities impacted by discriminatory and abusive policing have a formal and structured role in NYPD reform. The Court-appointed Monitor, Facilitator and Mayor’s office should work with Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) to ensure that community organizations help determine what reforms are to be implemented, how they should be implemented, and how they are evaluated.

 TRANSPARENCY OF NYPD DISCRIMINATORY ENFORCEMENT AND USE OF EXCESSIVE & DEADLY FORCE 

9)     The Department of Justice should launch an investigation into broken windows policing and the use-of-force policies and practices of the NYPD.

10)   NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure should issue a report on the use of deadly force and other excessive force, to include accounting of the disciplinary outcomes in these incidents over the past two decades.  

11)   The NYPD should publish quarterly and annual reports of summons and misdemeanor arrests, as well as use of force, to include demographic datasuch as race, gender, age, precinct, etc.  (We are also in solidarity with national calls for a federal database on use of force and police killings).

It was a powerful moment in Bronx history to see so many people from all walks of life gathered to have their voices heard against the injustices levied against them and their peers across the country.

Tomorrow at 3:30 there will be another gathering, ‘The Bronx Stands Up Against Police Brutality‘ at Heritage Field (the site of the old Yankee Stadium).

Protesters head down 3rd Avenue towards Roberto Clemente Plaza
Protesters head down 3rd Avenue towards Roberto Clemente Plaza

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Many merchants and employees stood outside their stores watching the march pass by. Some, in solidarity, would raise their hands.
Many merchants and employees stood outside their stores watching the march pass by. Some, in solidarity, would raise their hands.
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Dozens of protesters laid down for 7 minutes during the die-in, representing the 7 minutes Eric Garner was left without being attended to after the fatal choke hold by the NYPD which left him gasping for air and saying, “I can’t breathe” 11 times before dying.

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Protesters begin their march at Hostos Community College
Protesters begin their march at Hostos Community College

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