Several dozen protesters, escorted by a similar-sized group of police, marched through lower Manhattan Monday demanding justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other men killed by police officers.
The demonstration started at the African Burial Ground Monument near City Hall, where protesters left flowers at the Colonial-era cemetery. The protesters turned their backs on the numerous officers who lined the streets outside the Ted Weiss Federal building, with several writing the names of people who have been killed police in chalk on the sidewalk.
Anthony Robledo, 25, from Queens, said his boss let him take off from work cleaning school buses for a yeshiva because of their belief in the need for police reform.
“I could be next, literally, I could be next” said Robledo when asked why he’s been protesting since the deaths of Garner and Brown.
Other events earlier in the day included a die-in outside 1 Police Plaza, and a rally outside the Brooklyn DA’s office.
“The fact that right now it’s below freezing out, and there’s still all these people out here – there might not be thousands, but it’s still a good core of people out here,” Robledo said. “I think it’s going to pick up in the spring, and it’s going to pick up way harder.”
Karen Ramspacher, 48, said she demonstrates because she thinks there’s a problem with race in America “especially expressed through the police force, when they treat people with darker skin worse than white people.”
“The only way to make a difference is to talk to the cops directly, to talk to the public directly,” Rampacher said. “And I think it’s really important that white people talk to other white people about our own racism,” said Ramspacher, who is white.
After more than an hour of rallying and speeches, the crowd started moving, leading a large contingent of cops down Centre Street on to Broadway and down to Wall Street.
Some of the protesters taunted a black woman police officer, asking why she was standing in the street with the NYPD. Others yelled back as an officer played an automatic warning for them to stay on the sidewalk or face arrest for disorderly conduct.
“We’re going to shut down s***,” one of the organizers yelled through a bullhorn outside of Zuccotti Park, the lower Broadway home of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in 2011. The group then walked to Bowling Green, and boarded the Staten Island Ferry.
There were no arrests as of late Thursday. Other demonstrations are planned for the MLK holiday on Monday.