New York protests continue over another grand jury ruling

New York protests continue over another grand jury ruling

Protests continued through the night at different places around New York City following a grand jury decision not to formally charge a policeman who killed Eric Garner here in July.

At least 30 people have been detained during the street protests, according to the ABC television channel.

Garner, 43, who was asthmatic, died July 17 from suffocation after officer Daniel Pantaleo placed an arm against his neck to apply a chokehold, while he kept shouting that he could not breathe, in an attempt to arrest him for selling tobacco illegally.

Protests were staged in Times Square, Union Square, Columbus Circle, the area around Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Station.

The demonstrators, mostly comprising young people, shouted "I can't breathe" and carried placards that read "Ferguson is everywhere", "Racism kills" and "Black lives matter" among others.

At Grand Central station, around 20 people played dead by lying on the floor, attracting the attention and curiosity of passers-by.

Major avenues in midtown Manhattan, like Fifth, Sixth and Seventh, remained closed due to the protests and the deployment of police who did not move to break up the demonstrations. Arrests were made, but authorities did not say how many were detained.

Meanwhile, US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Department of Justice will launch an independent investigation to determine if there was a violation of civil rights in the case of Garner.

Just a few hours after the grand jury announced Wednesday its decision not to charge the officer in the death, Holder made his statement about the federal investigation, saying that it would be independent, thorough, fair and expeditious.

The grand jury's decision set off protests in New York as well as in Washington DC, just a week after a wave of protests took place across the country against a similar decision by a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri.

Nov 24, officer Darren Wilson was let go without charges after shooting dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black youth, in August under circumstances that still remain unclear.

"Recent incidents across the country have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect," Holder said.

Holder emphasised the people's right to protest peacefully taking into account the frustration among several sections of the society, and asked them to refrain from violence as it would distract from such a serious topic.

The attorney general also announced that in the next few days his department would issue new directives to prevent racial discrimination by law enforcement agencies, especially after the case of Michael Brown.

Holder, the first African-American to head the Justice Department, played a key role in pacifying the protests that followed Brown's death and has not hesitated to speak out against racial tension in the country.

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