The confluence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and the six month anniversary of Eric Garner’s death will see protesters return to the streets of New York City.
Protesters shut down the city streets in late November and early December after the grand jury decisions not to indict the officers responsible for killing Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
The mass demonstrations grinded to a halt after Dec. 20, when Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed by Ismaiyyl Brinsley. After the killings, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials called for an end to the protests until Ramos and Liu were laid to rest.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that groups known for anti-police rhetoric will be demonstrating Thursday.
“(The groups) have a long history of unfortunately allowing some of their members to say really inappropriate, reprehensible things about our police officers,” de Blasio said. “Things that I feel are quite sick — anything that suggests violence towards police. They may have a constitutional right to chant their chants, but they’re wrong, and they’re denigrating any notion of calling for reform.”
The mayor did not name the groups he was talking about. Several groups, including People’s Power Assemblies and OWS-S17 and Occu-Evolve, two groups associated with Occupy Wall Street, have demonstrations tomorrow.
“I’m waiting for him to condemn the NYPD for murdering black youth, I’m more concerned about who’s going to be killed yet,” said Imani Henry, an organizer with People’s Power Assemblies. “I don’t think anyone is anti-cop, we’re talking about the fact that (people of color) are being beaten and brutalized, and it so happens the police are the ones doing it.”
Association of Legal Aid Attorneys of New York will march in Staten Island on Thursday to mark King’s birthday and the nearly-six months since Garner’s death. Garner died in July 17 last year.
Bina Ahmad, a criminal defense attorney with Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, who represented Garner, said de Blasio and other elected officials “don’t have the power” to tell citizens they can’t “engage in their First Amendment rights” after the deaths of two officers by a lone person who was not a civil rights activist.
“I hope and think there will be more and more people coming out in the streets,” Ahmad said. “Unless we see a massive change in police not killing unarmed citizens, then demonstrations will continue building and moving.”
Both the Justice League and National Action Network have events planned for MLK Dayon Monday.
L. Joy Williams, president of the Brooklyn NAACP, said the movement is not “protesting cops” or “anti-cop,” but promoting law enforcement reform.
Williams said the number of people in the streets is part of the “ebb and flow” of social movements.
“Just because there aren’t thousands or millions of people in the streets doesn’t mean the issue isn’t relevant,” Williams said.
“I think that its hard to predict what will happen,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, said with regard to another potential wave of demonstrations. “This has jolted a lot of people into activism around issues of policing and civil rights.”