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Another grand jury decision incites more protests across Triangle, nation

Posted December 4, 2014

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— Frustration and concern echoed once again in the Triangle and across the country Thursday night as demonstrators protested another grand jury decision in an officer-involved death – less than two weeks after doing the same for a similar case.

This time, crowds in Durham and Raleigh were smaller and did not disrupt traffic.

A Staten Island, N.Y. grand jury on Wednesday found “no reasonable cause” to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. In July, Pantaleo used an apparent chokehold to subdue Garner, who was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. A medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, noting that the chokehold was a contributing factor.

The grand jury decision resulted in demonstrations throughout the country Wednesday and Thursday night, including thousands blocking the West Side Highway, a major New York City roadway. Hundreds converged at the entrance to the Staten island Ferry, where lines of officers stopped protesters from entering the terminal, and protesters blocked streets at random across the city.

NYC police, anticipating where else protesters could go, also had a heavy presence at the Lincoln Tunnel and closed the Brooklyn Bridge to vehicle and foot traffic.

In Durham, things were not chaotic.

About 100 people chanted “Black lives matter” while gathered at CCB Plaza in downtown Durham.

Protest organizer Nia Wilson said the grand jury decision is the latest example of ‘systemic racism.’

"They may not be lost because they lost their breath, but folks can't get jobs, folks can't go to school, people can't get jobs because of the way we're being policed in this country,” she said.

Others at the protest shared similar thoughts.

"I think we have police forces all over the country that are out of control, that have been given carte blanche, that have been given militarized equipment,” Josh Jones said.

At Moore Square in Raleigh, Molly Eness and her children were among about 100 demonstrators present.

“I brought my kids because I want them to stand up when something is wrong,” she said. “That’s just about it. I think we had to be here.”

Protesters marched peacefully – while escorted by Raleigh police – from Moore Square to the federal courthouse on New Bern Avenue.

Similar gatherings were also held Thursday at N.C. Central University and Duke University, where students laid on the ground as part of a ‘die in.’

Wednesday’s decision is the second high-profile case in recent weeks where a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the death of a black person, further straining the relationship between law enforcement and African-American communities.

Hundreds gathered in Durham and Raleigh on Nov. 25 in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo. police officer in the shooting death of an 18-year-old man – including a crowd that stopped traffic on a major Triangle highway during the evening rush hour.

In Durham, one group briefly blocked northbound lanes of the Durham Freeway at Mangum Street before marching to Durham Police Department headquarters and chanting at officers, who stood in riot gear outside the building. Another group went to the Durham County jail to voice their support for those incarcerated inside. Both groups then convened in CCB Plaza where their frustrations were vented through painting, poetry and music.

Hundreds gathered in Moore Square to pray and share their frustrations, including some who voiced concern for the safety of African-American men and others pushing for more organized efforts. A candlelight prayer vigil was also held at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.

Every Triangle protest has been peaceful and no arrests were reported.

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  • Barely Dec 5, 2014

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    I agree 100% with you. We don't need militarized police. That is what they have in countries like China. But I don't think the majority of these protestors see that as the issue. They are simply jumping in on race issues.

  • jackaroe123 Dec 5, 2014

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    How did he manage to die if he could breathe? The medical examiner's report specifically said the choke hold, chest compression, and being held on the ground led to his death. Mr. Garner's health issues were contributing factors, but not the cause.

    "I can't breathe" isn't exactly a statement you can plug into a mathematical formula. The cumulative effect of partially restricted breathing can kill you, but you'd still be able to talk. Seeing as Mr. Garner actually did die and the medical examiner determined the police actions did cause it, you might want to rethink your logic about that.

  • Objective Scientist Dec 5, 2014

    continuation of last comment: Did the interviewers and/or CNN report what most/all of the police who wrestled with Garner most likely knew... that this huge man had been arrested multiple, multiple times in the past and that he had resisted arrest? If they did... I missed it! Additionally, it has become a predictable pattern with the media... something such as the Brown and Garner cases happen and they RUSH to get the family in front of the camera. I'd simply ask, for what legitimate reason? That said... Garners's case, in particular, begs additional questions and investigation. I believe anyone viewing the video has to think... "That was not well handled... there has to be a better way of dealing with situations such as that!" Back to media... if a reporter/news anchor, etc. wants to take a strong stand and make "editorial" comments about the issues... that is OK with me as long as it is clearly indicated it is "personal opinion" and separate from reporting the FACTS!

  • Objective Scientist Dec 5, 2014

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    IMO - the news media should be a bit more "circumspect" and truly think about what they do and/or may incite. I would NEVER suggest that news media be "censored" to even the slightest degree... and they obviously are not in the USA. That means the media have a HUGE responsibility to report news FACTUALLY and without injecting into it their own emotions! Just yesterday I saw CNN interviewing the wife, mother, and not sure who else, of Garner. They spoke of losing a husband, a son, and of grandchildren losing their grandfather, etc. That is true... Garner was all of those and that is indeed TRAGIC! And they were asked - more or less - how they felt about a non-indictment from the Grand Jury. Of course, they expressed extreme displeasure with that... not surprisingly. Did the interviewers ask the family about Garner's record? If they did... I missed that part! Did interviewers follow that segment with a reporting of Garner's record?

  • prn13norm Dec 5, 2014

    Garner had over 30 past arrests including resisting arrest. He knew first hand the consequences of his actions! He is just one less criminal on the streets or costing taxpayers living in jail!

  • Ernest Borgnine Dec 5, 2014
    user avatar

    The deaths of Brown and Garner are indeed tragedies...Garner's death definitely occurred under questionable circumstances. I am glad people are protesting this injustice and a growing police state that clearly favors the easy convictions of minorities. I for one would like to see the police not gifted with DOD leftovers and surplus weaponry to further enable a police state.

    As a Republican, I am disgusted with anyone that would argue for a larger government and the police state that comes with it. The guy was selling loose cigarettes, not pot, other drugs or anything else. How is that even a crime? Why is that even a crime?

    The only crime perpetrated in this instance was a lack of an indictment against the officers who caused Garner's death via a chokehold tactic that is banned by the NYPD.

    Yes. People should protest that. Because that unchecked power we are so eager to give to the police will one day have detrimental consequences.

  • Itsmyopinion67 Dec 5, 2014

    24 people showed up! HAHAHA Why is this news?

  • Objective Scientist Dec 5, 2014

    The deaths of Brown and Garner are indeed tragedies... tragedies that - for whatever reasons good and/or bad - were the result of events spiriling very quickly out of control. Deaths that "did not have to happen" and should not have happened, and I both understand and empathize with the grief, pain, and the notion of white cops targeting black men - accurate sentiment or not. That said... what is the common denominator of each event/death... other than the victim being black and the person causing the death being white? It is that the victim was engaged in and/or had very recently committed an illegal act... aka "breaking the law". Primary message to be taken? Don't break the law and your chances of dying at the hands of a LEO are practically zero! Secondary message: Do what the LEO tells you to do and don't resist arrest! I'm a "white guy"... and my parents always stressed that - COOPERATE! It is not only black parents that give their sons such advice/instruction!

  • glarg Dec 5, 2014

    "This time, crowds in Durham and Raleigh were smaller and did not disrupt traffic."
    The got a couple of dozen people.... And this is milked for how any news stories?

    I wonder how big the crowd is for the March for Life in the middle of winter? Just saying.

  • Chad Hines Dec 5, 2014
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    These folks do not care about facts. The rioting in Ferguson started before the prosecutor was reading the facts of the case.

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