Thousands of people rallied Thursday night and chanted “I can’t breathe” in lower Manhattan's Foley Square. Demonstrators reportedly marched south from Union Square to protest a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
Video footage of the incident reveals Garner gasped that he couldn't breathe as Pantaleo used a banned chokehold on the father of six in July. Many people in the crowd want justice for Garner, who refused arrest after he was allegedly caught selling cigarettes.
Protests throughout the city started Wednesday as demonstrators staged a “die-in” in Grand Central Terminal, rallied in Times Square and mourned the death of Garner in Staten Island where he died. Eighty-three people were arrested, NBC News reported.
Garner's mother, Gwen Garner, asked for peace when she spoke at a press conference Wednesday night. "We need peace throughout the support," she said. "Yeah, we want you to rally, but rally in peace. Do what you have to, but do it in peace.”
Garner’s widow, Esaw, revealed she would not accept Pantaleo’s apology, which he released in a statement after the grand jury's decision not to indict. "This fight ain't over, it has just begun," she said. "I'm determined to get justice for my husband. He should be here celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. Somebody who got paid to do right, did wrong. As long as I have a breath in my body, I will fight to the end." Esaw added: "Hell no. No, I don't accept his apology.”
Though Pantaleo was not indicted, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said there would be a federal investigation into Garner’s death. “All lives must be valued,” he said. “We have all seen the video of Mr. Garner's arrest. His death, of course, was a tragedy.”
While many are upset with the grand jury's announcement, Patrick Lynch, head of the New York police union, praised their decision. "We feel badly that there was a loss of life," he said, according to NBC News. "But unfortunately Mr. Garner made a choice that day to resist arrest."
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