US & Canada

Thousands march in New York over police chokehold death

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Media captionProtesters in New York explain why they have taken to the streets

Thousands of demonstrators have marched peacefully through the New York borough of Staten Island in protest at the death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer.

Eric Garner, 43. died in July after being placed in a chokehold as police arrested him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

The march was led by the Rev Al Sharpton and relatives of Mr Garner.

He died weeks before black teenager Michael Brown was killed in Missouri.

The 18-year-old was shot dead on 9 August after being stopped by a police officer for walking in the street in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson.

The killing sparked days of protest culminating in the deployment of the National Guard, which was withdrawn on Friday.

'We will prevail'

Some of the protesters in New York displayed banners saying "Black lives matter" while others demanded justice in the cases of both Mr Garner and Mr Brown, as a large police contingent looked on.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Garner, 43, died on 17 July after a police officer arrested him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many of the demonstrators carried signed or face masks displaying Mr Garner's last words

Some shops were closed for the day on Saturday, amid fears the protest could turn violent as happened in Ferguson earlier this week.

But civil rights activist Mr Sharpton repeatedly warned demonstrators that such action would not be tolerated. He said that Mr Garner's death was a defining moment for police nationwide.

In the event protesters filed peacefully past the spot where Mr Garner was held to the ground by police as the marchers processed towards the the Staten Island prosecutor's office.

"We will prevail," the black reverend - who was accompanied by Mr Garner's widow and several of his children - told the crowd. "They will not cry alone."


The demonstrators demanded the prosecution of Daniel Pantaleo, the suspended police officer who arrested Mr Garner. Some chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" - the slogan often used by the Ferguson demonstrators.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The afternoon rally and march was led by the Rev Al Sharpton who urged protesters to remain non-violent or go home
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police estimated that about 2,500 people took to the streets
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Garner's widow, Esaw, was overcome with emotion at the protest

A New York grand jury is considering criminal charges against Mr Pantaleo.

Mr Garner, who had asthma, was heard on a witness video shouting "I can't breathe!" as police arrested him.

A medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide.

However, the New York City medical examiner's office said other factors contributed to his death included asthma and heart disease.

Mr Garner's death provoked an outcry, especially after a video of Officer Pantaleo placing him in a chokehold became public.

Chokeholds are banned by the New York Police Department and Commissioner William Bratton has ordered an internal review of training.

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