National Action Network Rally Demands Justice For Eric Garner, Michael Brown
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Community members gathered in Harlem Saturday to discuss the fatal police-involved shooting of an unarmed teenager in Missouri that has sparked national outrage.
As CBS 2′s Don Champion reported, the National Action Network held a rally in a show of solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Mo., which Missouri Gov. Nixon issued as in a state of emergency. Nixon also imposed a curfew for the St. Louis suburb Saturday evening.
“We won’t enforce it with trucks, we won’t enforce it with tear gas. We’ll communicate. It’s time to go home,” police said Saturday.
Family members of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died while in police custody last month, were in attendance as the rally demanded justice in the Michael Brown case.
Garner’s mother Gwen Carr said the march for her son and Brown planned on State Island next weekend will be peaceful, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
“We’re not gonna start fighting and pushing each other and breaking windows, right?” she said to the National Action Network rally.
“We’re going to come together and basically you know fight this so it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Garner’s sister said.
Meanwhile there was more chaos and reports of looting overnight in Ferguson as police and protesters continue to clash over the teen’s death, Champion reported.
Police said at least four stores were broken into in the tension-filled town.
Among the stores was the Food Mart, where police claim the 18-year-old Brown committed a strong-arm robbery minutes before he was fatally shot by an officer last Saturday.
In a controversial move Friday, the Ferguson police chief released surveillance video he said shows Brown robbing the store.
CBS News has learned the Department of Justice asked Ferguson police to not circulate the video for fear of inciting more violence, but the video was released anyway.
Missouri Highway Patrol officials tasked with securing the town said they believe the looting and violence overnight was in response to video’s release, Champion reported.
“I’m fired up, can’t take it no more,” one protester said.
Protesters on the street were angered to learn about the footage, Champion reported.
“It’s been four days!” said another protester.
“It’s no time to calm down, it’s no time to shut up,” one rally speaker said.
Police said they released the footage to satisfy freedom of information requests from the media, but Brown’s family said it’s an attempt to divert attention from the shooting.
“The family thinks that was strategic,” said attorney Anthony Gray. “They think it was to denigrate their son.”
“It’s the epitome of an insult to the people of this country that law enforcement would smear a young man before we can even bury him,” Sharpton said Saturday.
During Saturday morning’s rally in Harlem, Rev. Sharpton said it was contemptible for police to release the video of Brown in the convenience store, Stern reported.
“To come out with that tape, and then have to admit that it had nothing to do with what happened with his death is to assassinate his character,” Sharpton said. “I mean we’re talking about this like this makes sense for police to be taking people’s lives over this stuff.”
Also on Friday, Ferguson police finally identified the officer who killed Brown, Champion reported.
Six-year veteran Darren Wilson, 28, has no prior complaints against him.
The police chief said Wilson didn’t know Brown was a suspect in the Food Mart robbery when he encountered the teen.
“The initial contact was not related to the robbery,” Chief Thomas Jackson said. “It was related to blocking the road.”
Business owners fearful of looters have begun to take matters into their own hands, protecting their stores with guns, Champion reported.
Some protesters said they’re worried out-of-towners are now in Ferguson and are bent on creating trouble.
Brown’s family members, however, have urged the public to remain calm.
“Do not get distracted. We don’t want to see any violence in the street,” said Brown’s cousin Eric Davis. “Please continue to peacefully protest.”
On Thursday, vigils were observed in more than 90 cities as part of a National Moment of Silence for Brown and Garner.
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square and Union Square, invoking the rallying cries “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe,” alluding to the 43-year-old Garner, who died after being placed in an apparent chokehold by police.
The father of six, who had asthma, can be heard on cell phone video shouting “I can’t breathe!” and died a short time later.
Meanwhile, Rev. Al Sharpton plans to travel to Ferguson and lead another march and rally there on Sunday, CBS 2′s Steve Langford reported.
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