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Protests Spread In New York And Beyond Over Eric Garner Case

Protesters shout slogans in New York City's Times Square on Wednesday. A New York City grand jury has decided not to charge a police officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold while trying to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes.
Adrees Latif Reuters /Landov
Protesters shout slogans in New York City's Times Square on Wednesday. A New York City grand jury has decided not to charge a police officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold while trying to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes.

As word spread of a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Staten Island man Eric Garner, so did word of planned protests in New York and other cities. And the main target seems to be Wednesday night's lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

The reaction was propelled by frustration that officer Daniel Pantaleo would not face charges over Garner's death, despite using a chokehold to subdue him in an encounter that was captured on video. A medical examiner had ruled the case a homicide in August.

Many people commenting on the case used the hashtag #ICantBreathe — a statement Garner made repeatedly as several officers apprehended him.

To prevent protesters from disrupting the tree lighting, police reportedly boosted their patrols and blocked some streets to pedestrians.

Protests were quickly organized via Twitter, where the hashtag ShutItDown became a rallying point. Other plans were coordinated via tags like DieIn — which resulted in dozens of people lying prone in Grand Central Station.

Both tags soon spread to other cities, including Los Angeles and Oakland — and Clayton, Mo., where a St. Louis County grand jury recently decided not to indict a police officer over the death of Michael Brown.

This afternoon, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that protesters have also rallied around the statement "Black lives matter."

"It's a phrase that should never have to be said," the mayor said. "It should be self-evident."

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