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“I Fear for the Lives of My Sons”: Voices from NYC Protests over Eric Garner Grand Jury Ruling

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In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict a white New York City police officer in the chokehold killing of Eric Garner, more than 80 people were arrested as protesters shut down parts of New York City, including the Brooklyn Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, West Side Highway and Sixth Avenue around Rockefeller Center. where the Christmas tree lighting ceremony was taking place. Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz and video producer Messiah Rhodes talked to a group of protesters in Times Square last night.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we go to the streets of New York last night. Thousands of people shut down the West Side Highway, went to Times Square, traveled throughout the boroughs, some scores of people, then hundreds of people and thousands. Renée Feltz was in Times Square.

BOB BAILEY: I’m Bob Bailey from Brooklyn, New York. Oh, I’m out here actually working, but I have a lunch break, so I took my lunch break time to protest.

RENÉE FELTZ: And what did you—what went through your mind when you heard the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer responsible for Eric Garner’s death?

BOB BAILEY: It’s like they keep on making excuses for the officers. They’re not being liable for their actions. And that’s horrible.

K. GAINES: The blue wall has to be broken!

My name is K. Gaines. I represent Brooklyn, the island called New York City.

RENÉE FELTZ: And I heard you say, “The blue wall has to be broken,” yelling to the police officers. Explain why you’re here and what you’re saying to them.

K. GAINES: The blue wall has to be broken. A lot of the officers that was part of the Mike Garner—I mean, Eric Garner situation—I mix up Mike Brown and Eric Garner, because they’re one and the same. It has to be broken. You can see that the cops didn’t want to be a part of that. There was a couple of cops that are actually the ones who were supposed to be prosecuted that did not get into trouble. So, what’s happening is we’re not getting justice. And they know we’re not getting justice. They don’t want to be out here, but they have to, because this is how they feed their families. But they also have families and children that’s going to go through the same thing if they don’t do something about it.

RODRICE VINCENT: Hi, my name is Rodrice Vincent. I’m a Brooklyn native, but I live in the Bronx. I’m out here tonight because I’m a mother of three children, two of them which are black boys. I fear for the lives of my sons. My daughter, my youngest, is six years old. When she looks at a police officer, she’s afraid. She’s not looking at them as somebody who’s there to protect and serve her. And at such a young age, so innocent, for even her to be aware that police hurt people that look like her dad, that look like her brother, that look like her uncle, and they don’t have to be doing anything.

ZAKIYAH ALI: I’m Zakiyah Ali, and I’m here because I don’t have nowhere else that I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be here in solidarity with the people. I’m a teacher. I teach my students to be obedient. I teach my students to think. I teach my students to be critical. But most of all, I teach them to be human beings. But obviously, I feel like a hypocrite, because what I’m teaching my students, it’s not reciprocated. And one of these days, my school, which is predominantly African-American, several of my students are walking down the street, and they could be the next Eric Garner, they could be the next Tamir Rice, they could be the next Michael Brown. But what we see right now is an indictment on black skin—no indictment on the cops, but an indictment on black skin—and an indictment on people that they feel is less than.

AMY GOODMAN: Some of the voices of people protesting in the streets. That was Times Square. Among those who were in Times Square was Spike Lee and his son.

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