Anti-police demonstrators sing ‘justice carols,’ stage more die-ins

Posted at 7:47 PM, Dec 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-07 21:47:29-05

By Ralph Ellis, Faith Karimi and Joe Sutton


(CNN) — Protesters in New York City sang “justice carols” and demonstrators in several cities held more die-ins Sunday to show their anger over a grand jury’s decision to not indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Related story: Videos: Protest against police violence blocks streets in SLC Saturday night

In New York City, a few hundred protesters gathered again at Grand Central station and Macy’s in Herald Square — sites of multiple die-ins over the past few days — before barging through the nearby H&M to lie on the floor en masse.

One young couple made the event a family affair, lying on the floor with their toddler between them.

A group went to Penn Station to sing “justice carols,” such as these lyrics to the tune of “Little Drummer Boy:”

“Help, he told them,

pa rum pum pum pum,

I cannot breathe, you see,

pa rum pum pum pum,

Our city’s finest bring,

pa rum pum pum pum,

Death to this human being.”

The mother of Eric Garner said Sunday she’s proud people protesting the death of her son have been peaceful for the most part.

“The riots have been so beautiful, so nicely done,” Gwen Carr said at her church on Staten Island, according to CNN affiliate NY1. “And peace is the message. We don’t want any violence but keep on moving on.”

In Chicago, about 250 people gathered at Saint Sabina Church to chant “black lives matter” before lying down in silence, reported CNN affiliate WGN.

“I’ll be wearing black and invite members to do so as well, as a sign of mourning for those who have lost their lives to violence,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina said in a statement before the event.

St. Louis Rams jerseys burned

In Imperial, Missouri, a group held a different kind of protest Sunday.

They burned St. Louis Rams football jerseys because they’re unhappy five players ran onto the field last Sunday making the hands-up-don’t-shoot gesture, according to CNN affiliate KSDK. That gesture has become part of anti-police demonstrations following a grand jury’s decision not to indict anybody in the Michael Brown slaying,

“Why would you do something like that? It’s utterly ridiculous,” said Larry Magee. “I think the Rams ought to pack their bags, and I’ll give them a plane ticket back to L.A.”

Early Sunday, protests turned violent in northern California when some masked demonstrators smashed windows while others pelted officers with rocks and bottles, authorities said.

Police said about 200 people were on Berkeley streets for another day of protests over a grand jury decision not to indict New York City Officer Daniel Pantaleo for Garner’s death on July 17.

But as some broke windows at businesses in the city, other protesters implored them to stop the violence.

Police in riot gear lined the streets while others hovered nearby on motorbikes. They warned crowds to disperse, but some vandalized various businesses, including a Trader Joe’s and a Wells Fargo Bank, police said.

Authorities used teargas to break up the crowds, said Jennifer Coats, a spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department.

“A small portion of protesters have been violent. They started throwing rocks and other projectiles at our officers,” Coats said.

Two officers suffered minor injuries as a result, including one who was treated for a dislocated shoulder.

Nationwide protests

Protesters have taken to the streets nationwide.

“What’s happening in these cities in these last several days is incredibly important to show we have a unified voice,” said Judi Flournoy, who was participating in a New York protest.

In New York, the victim’s widow, Esaw Garner Snipes, has said watching the mass of demonstrators from her Staten Island home brings tears to her eyes. She said she told her son, “Look at all the love your father is getting.”

On Saturday, dozens of protesters staged “die ins” — lying down on the ground in memory of Garner — at Grand Central Station in Manhattan and Union Station in Washington.

Meanwhile, New York officials said complaints against police officers fell significantly in the second half of the year, compared with July to November 2013.

A report that tallied complaints said 1,813 were made so far since July 1 of this year, 26% fewer than the number of complaints filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board in the same period of the prior year. Excessive force allegations fell by 29%.

The dip followed a slight rise in the first six months of the year, the report said. But overall, allegations have declined in 2014.

CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.

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