New York Mayor Bill De Blasio cancelled his appearance at the city’s annual tree-lighting ceremony Wednesday after a grand jury decided against indicting a city police officer in the chokehold death of an illegal cigarette vendor, while Attorney General Eric Holder announced a civil rights investigation into the most investigated police force on earth.
“F*** the tree,” the crowd shouted as officers kept them from storming Rockefeller Center, according to the New York Post.
Protests throughout the city started shortly after the decision was announced Wednesday afternoon, with demonstrators snarling rush hour traffic for motorists, while a “die-in” in Grand Central station made things tough for rail commuters.
“Our intention is to be peaceful, orderly and to chant our message,” one protest organization told CNN. (Nothing says “peaceful and orderly” like “F*** the tree.”)
The protesters were reacting to a grand jury’s decision that cleared a city police officer in the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner, who died in July after being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
In Washington, meanwhile, Holder said the Justice Department would be conducting its own review into Garner’s death.
During the arrest, an officer placed Garner in a chokehold — against police department policy — and a city medical examiner had ruled the death homicide, caused by the chokehold and compression on his chest after he was brought to the ground.
“Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation,” he said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.
(This is par for the course for Holder, whose “civil rights investigation” of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 is still plodding along, as is his “civil rights investigation” of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson in August. “Civil rights investigations” seem to be Holder’s reaction whenever a jury of Americans does something he doesn’t agree with.)
On Twitter, there were the usual cries for “social justice,” but no small amount of skepticism at the protesters methods — and goals.
Why does it always come to this? Wow, you’re really taking it to the man by blocking cab drivers on the West Side Hwy pic.twitter.com/UTWPUQpkHV
— Jeff Poor (@jeff_poor) December 4, 2014
@NYScanner how does shutting down roads help anyone??? Idiots.
— Mike Huehn (@Huehn24) December 4, 2014
@jeff_poor How and why are New Yorkers putting up with this bullshit!?
— Opie’s Wired Mouse (@SeanDiVincenzo) December 4, 2014
— JLaw (@yoopermoma) December 4, 2014
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