Eric Garner Protesters Storm Apple Store, Macy's, Park | NBC New York
The Death of Eric Garner

The Death of Eric Garner

Staten Island grand jury clears NYPD officer in chokehold case

Eric Garner Protesters Storm Apple Store, Macy's, Park

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and stores in Manhattan for a third night of demonstrations after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Jonathan Vigliotti reports. (Published Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014)

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and stores in Manhattan for a third night of demonstrations after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Starting at Columbus Circle on a rainy Friday evening, the protesters marched to the flagship Apple store on Fifth Avenue and stormed the famous glass cube, going down the stairs and flooding the shop as they chanted "Black lives matter" and "I can't breathe."

Customers inside the store and employees appeared surprised as the protesters started filing in, then watched as the protesters marched, chanted and later, staged a "die-in" and lay on the ground. 

Police officers walked along with the protesters, monitoring the demonstration and keeping order. 

Eric Garner Protesters March in NYC

[NY] Eric Garner Protesters March in NYC
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and stores in Manhattan for further demonstrations after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Brynn Gingras reports. (Published Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014)

After leaving the Apple store, the protesters went to Macy's in Herald Square and marched through the department store. They went on to Grand Central Terminal and then to Bryant Park, where they also staged die-ins. Others protested on Wall Street. 

It's not clear why the protesters went to those particular stores to demonstrate.

"I didn't decide that [destination], but I think the message is this is not business as usual," said Joyce Skurski.

Macy's had no comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Protesters Storm Apple Store

[NY] Protesters Storm Apple Store
Protesters storm the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in midtown Friday evening. It's not clear why they chose that store to demonstrate. (Published Friday, Dec. 5, 2014)

Last week on Black Friday, people went inside Macy's Herald Square to protest the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict in the shooting death of Michael Brown. They said they were aiming to diminish Black Friday profits in order to make governments take notice. 

At Bryant Park Friday, Ani Charles protested along with her 9-year-old and 13-year-old children.

"I'm here because I really do not want this to be the future for our children," she said. "I want people to know black lives matter." 

While large, the crowd was far from the thousands who flooded streets, blocked traffic and lay down in roads during Thursday night's protests. Police said 223 people were arrested in those demonstrations, a bulk of them on charges of disorderly conduct and a few for minor assaults on police officers.

Thousands of Garner Protesters March Across NYC

[NY] Thousands of Garner Protesters March Across NYC
Thousands of people lay down in streets, blocked bridges and cut off tunnels in a second day of protests in response to a grand jury's decision not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Brynn Gingras reports. (Published Friday, Dec. 5, 2014)

That's in addition to the 83 people arrested Wednesday, the day the grand jury issued its vote not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo. 

NBC 4 New York learned Friday that Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan asked grand jurors to consider manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges, and not a lesser charge of reckless endangerment. It's not clear why he left the lesser charge off the table, and he has said strict confidentiality laws surrounding grand jury proceedings prevent him from discussing the details of the case. 

The protests have been largely peaceful and non-violent, with very little vandalism, according to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who also praised police officers for practicing restraint during the marches. 

"All and all, apart from the significant traffic disruptions, we've been doing OK," he said.  

He added later, after a regular Friday meeting with Mayor de Blasio: "These things tend to peter out on their own. People get tired of marching around aimlessly. And we're going to have a lot of rain tomorrow, so, the history of these things is these don't go on forever. They tend to peter out on their own."

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Friday that fire truck and ambulance response times to emergencies have not been affected by the protests so far.

He added: "Everyone has a right for their voice to be heard, but for their own safety, and for the safety of all New Yorkers, we always ask that New Yorkers keep a safe distance from emergency equipment at all times."  

Pantaleo said in a statement Wednesday that he became a police officer to help people. 

"It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner," he said. "My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

SEE MORE COVERAGE OF THE ERIC GARNER GRAND JURY PROTESTS: 

-- Jonathan Vigliotti contributed to this report. 


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