Thousands of diverse people united by anger took to the streets from New York City to San Francisco for a second straight night to protest a grand jury clearing a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
Grandparents marched with their grandchildren. Experienced activists stood alongside newcomers, and protesters of all colours chanted slogans. “We’re under siege and it has to stop,” Harlem resident Judy Edwards, 61, said at a rally on Thursday night in lower Manhattan’s Foley Square.
That was the message, too, in cities across America — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis Oakland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., among them. Sign-carrying, chanting demonstrators marched down heavily-travelled streets and shut down highways and bridges. Politicians talked about the need for better police training, body cameras and changes in the grand jury process to restore faith in the legal system.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, blasted by police union leaders who accused him of not supporting his officers, outlined previously announced plans to teach officers how to communicate better with people on the street.
President Barack Obama also weighed in, saying one of the chief issues at stake is “making sure that people have confidence that police and law enforcement and prosecutors are serving everybody equally.”