Demonstrators Flood Grand Central, Macy's in Fifth Day of Garner Protests

Demonstrators again took to the streets in Manhattan Sunday in protest of a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, as protests in California turned violent and professional athletes joined in on growing national outcry over the case.

Sunday's protests were smaller than ones in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's grand jury decision and on Thursday. About 250 marchers took to Grand Central Terminal before moving onto popular stores, including the flagship Macy's store in Herald Square and a nearby H&M.

Protesters mixed in with holiday shoppers at the businesses and chanted "This is our store, we will not break anything."

Sunday's rally mark a fifth-straight day of protests in the wake of the grand jury's decision not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner's death. Pantaleo was seen on widely watched amateur video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck as the heavyset, asthmatic 43-year-old yelled, "I can't breathe!" nearly a dozen times during the July 17 confrontation.

It's not clear if there were any arrests in Sunday's demonstrations. More than 300 people have been arrested in protests since Wednesday, mostly on misdemeanor charges.

Meanwhile protests in Berkeley, California, turned violent. As many as 500 demonstrators gathered Sunday evening to protest the deaths of Garner and Missouri teen Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson in August. Protesters there blocked off buses, snarled traffic and yelled, "Fist up, Fight back." Police say they had to use tear gas and make arrests when protesters began throwing rocks at police. 

Demonstrators in Philadelphia and Chicago also held peaceful protests Sunday.

NFL stars voiced their opinions Sunday, as well. Players from the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns scrawled "I can't breathe", Garner's last words" onto their pregame warmup gear.

"Honestly, I've always been the quiet kid. I've always been the one who's reserved, to kind of sit back and not really get into politics and things like that," said Lions RB Reggie Bush, who wore the words on his chest and is the son of a police officer. "But I don't know why I just felt some kind of ... I guess the situation just touched me.

In the NBA, Chicago Bulls point guard and former league MVP Derrick Rose wore a T-shirt screen printed with the words before a game against the Golden State Warriors Sunday afternoon. Rose's gesture drew praise from fellow MVP winner LeBron James, who said he's looking for one of the T-shirts for himself. 

The protests came hours after Garner's widow said he was "murdered unjustly" in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." She added that she didn't feel his death was a "black and white thing" but was the result of prolonged harassment by police. 

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.”

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 federal Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into Garner's death, and the NYPD is conducting an internal review of the case. Mayor de Blasio said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the NYPD's review could take up to four months.

The families of Garner and Brown will join civil rights leaders for a rally in Washington on Saturday.


-- Michael George contributed to this report. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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