Protests erupted across New York City as people outraged over a Staten Island grand jury voted against indicting a white cop for the summer death of a black male vented their rage while politicians and celebrities voiced their concerns online.
The protests, including a die in at Grand Central Terminal, were peaceful – a stark contrast to Ferguson – and heeded leaders’ calls for non-violent resistance. They developed as officials, movie stars and others across the country condemned the decision.
The Grand Central die-in, which occurred just before the evening rush hour, peacefully assembled in the famed train station’s marble-clad main hall.
Dozens of people were shown in images laying down motionless on the floor as people gathered around them. Police previously said they would not be interfered with if the protests remained peaceful.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio cancelled his scheduled Wednesday evening appearance at the Rockefeller Center Tree lighting ceremony, instead opting to meet with religious leaders on Staten Island and speak at a church near where Garner died.
Protestors initially planned to descend on the ceremony but soon shifted their energies elsewhere, according to social media postings showing protests in Times Square, Union Square and in various places on Staten Island.
City council member Debi Rose tweeted: “We held on to hope, and hope was denied. #justiceforEricGarner.”
I have no words left… just angry tears thru gritted teeth. #RIPEricGarner #RIPHumanity #RIPCompassion May the Lord have mercy…
Multiple other city council members tweeted they were headed to Staten Island to join protestors.
“Cosby Show” star Malcom Jamal-Warner tweeted his outrage: “Bodycams on police officers. Snuff films made legal. How about showing what justice looks like? #GarnerRiceBrown.”
Jamal-Warner’s gripe may have been in reference to a number of NYPD officers reportedly being outfitted with body cams only hours before the grand jury decision was announced.
“This Eric Garner s**t is making me sick to my stomach,” tweeted rapper and actor Ice-T. “We all watched a snuff FILM! No indictment!”
Fellow hip hop star MC Hammer also weighed in on Twitter: “Deep Hurt. We’re Men. Human. We feel pain. There will be one collective cry added to these tears.Then the birth of a New Anger. #EricGarner”
So did actress Anika Noni Rose: “Dear United States, it’s spirit numbing, shameful, and sickly redundant. #EricGarner.”
Movie director Spike Lee, often a vocal presence surrounding civil rights issues, posted a statement on Instagram.
“Somebody’s Eyes Are Lying. BLACK LIVES MATTER. WE NEED THE FEDS FOR JUSTICE. These Grand Juries In Ferguson And Staten Island And Blind In My Opinion.”
Democratic New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand said: “I’m shocked by this grand jury decision, and will be calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.”
Democratic Senator Cory Booker, from New Jersey also called for the feds to be involved in a Facebook post.
“This should not have happened. This could have been prevented,” Booker wrote. “Eric Garner’s death should be further investigated by federal authorities and it should constructively contribute to a broader national re-examination of our entire criminal justice system.”
Soon after Lee’s angry Instagram post, Attorney General Eric Holder office revealed the Department of Justice was looking into Garner’s death.
Garner’s family is due to speak Wednesday evening on Rev. Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show. Sharpton has been noticeably quiet in the buildup to the airing.