- Posted July 20, 2014 by
New York, New York
Team iReport featured this story
Protesters call for peace after man dies while being detained by NYPD.
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
Family members, clergy and community leaders called for peace and restraint today after Eric Garner, 43, suffered a fatal heart attack after being detained by the New York Police Department last Thursday. Garner was put in a chokehold and knocked to the ground and handcuffed after allegedly selling untaxed "loosie" single cigarettes in the Tompkinsville neighborhood on Staten Island. It remains unclear why the situation escalated to that level and the officer involved has been place on administrative leave.
Rev. Al Sharpton met with family members at the New Brighton Church before marching to the location of Thursday's incident on Bay Street. Various impassioned speakers addressed a crowd of several hundred in front of the church. They reminded everyone that Garner was loved in the community and was known to be a "gentle giant" who would not have condoned a violent response to his passing.
The NYPD appeared genuinely sympathetic to the marchers, giving everyone wide latitude to voice their frustrations and march on the streets. Protestors chanted "No justice. No peace." At other times they yelled, "I can't breathe!" Videotape evidence appears to show Garner pleading with police after being taken down and saying that he was having difficulty breathing. The father of six had an asthma condition and he reportedly went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital after the altercation.
Sharpton made a few comments to those around him during the march and protest but did not speak publicly. He had addressed the media earlier in the day. He departed after a moment of silence for Garner in front of the store where the altercation took place. Protestors moved on to the 120th Precinct station and took command of the steps where Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, thanked the crowd and described the overwhelming sadness that she was experiencing over her son's death.
New York's highest ranking uniformed officer, Chief Phillip Banks, made an appearance and conferred with those involved in the protest. He stated that everyone felt a sense of loss and sadness over Garner's death and the the overall situation was having an impact on everyone including the police department. No one from the NYPD or the mayor's office addressed the crowd directly.
Speakers renewed their call for justice from the steps of the precinct but implored the community to remain peaceful. Their concern was that a violent reaction would take the focus off of what had happened and that the situation could be misrepresented and manipulated by the media if protestors became unruly. One speaker earlier in the afternoon told people to "raise an eyebrow" at anyone talking about violence. "Attacking the police has never solved anything," she said. "We are going to do this right and demand justice for Eric." The crowd dispersed at 4:30 in the afternoon.