On Monday, Nov. 24, a Missouri grand jury decided that the officer involved in the shooting of a young black male in Ferguson, MO would not be indicted over the killing. The decision led to a swarm of protests across the country.
Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer of the Ferguson Police Department, fatally shot Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male on Aug. 9 of this year.
On the night of the jury’s decision a crowd gathered beneath the lights of Times Square in New York City.
Their hand-held and professionally printed placards were dominated by the flashing wall-to-wall advertisements of Times Square, but certainly made their standpoint on the issue clear, reading “Racism Kills,” “Unarmed Civilian,” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”
“This ‘ain’t no place for tourists tonight,” said one by-stander. Declining to give his name, the 20-something black male held a sign that read “Black Lives Matter.”
The tension in the air that night was not helped by the line of NYPD cops who stood face-to-face with the protestors. As the group chanted, “How do you spell racist? N – Y – P – D,” the police stood silent and straight-faced.
As the rally moved from Times Square to the streets of New York City, their numbers had increased, as had the presence of police. As the protestors continued to yell various melodic chants against the American judicial system, the police followed behind in cars and on foot.
The following night in N.Y.C saw more protests. At approximately 8:30 p.m. that Tuesday evening, a group of around 1,000 people managed to shut down the FDR highway in Manhattan. With one side blocked off by the police and free of traffic and the other congested with cars, the rally had a captive audience.
Police riot vans tried to push through the traffic with a megaphone, and police helicopters swarmed overhead.
As the protestors reignited their chants and powered through the empty highway, some jumped the median to other side to interact directly with the passengers of the stopped cars. One young black male laid down in between cars, forcing them to stop.
One cab driver, who did not want to be named, was initially worried about how long the protest would keep him locked on the highway.
“I want to get home. This is rush hour and I’m losing money,” he said.
But he was ultimately taken by the atmosphere, and proceeded to climb on top of his cab and join in with the shouts of “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”
Every driver and passenger got out of their vehicles to watch the parade, if only to momentarily get back in to honk their horns in either support or frustration at being trapped on the road.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the two protests was the mix of people who were involved in the rally.
There were white people, there were black people. There were women with children, businessmen in suits, students in skinny jeans and the elderly in winter coats. People from all walks of life participated in the New York City Ferguson protest.