NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As people from across the city and country gathered for Saturday’s march on Staten Island in support of Eric Garner, a ,man who died in police custody, they vowed never to forget all the victims of alleged police brutality.
Few people at the rally ever knew Garner in real life, but the video of how he died touched a common nerve as they poured off the buses from all over the city Saturday, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
“I’m from a small place near Albany, Georgia called Carmella, Georgia so I’ve seen this all my life,” David Williams said.
Constance Malcom’s son, Ramarley Graham, died in 2012. He was unarmed, but shot and killed by police officers after a footchase.
On Saturday, a Manhattan artist brought t-shirts to the march to provide context of the incidents that date back years.
“This has happened for a long time. It’s a big part of New York City history that a lot of people have forgotten,” Upper West Side resident Erik Font said.
For the Garner family, the display of support means a lot, Young reported.
“We just want to see justice for all the people who have been violated by the law,” Garner’s sister said.
As Young reported, the sentiment of being “violated by the law,” brought a former police officer to the rally.
“That’s the concern in communities: our relationship with police and how they treat us without dignity,” former officer Ephraim Cruz said.
“This is not about being anti-NYPD. This is about being pro-accountability, pro-humanity and pro-civility,” protester April DeSimone said.
“I want my son to respect the law but I think the law needs to respect us as human beings,” marcher Collette Haney said.
Many of the protesters stressed this isn’t just about Staten Island, but rather a larger pattern that they say is a long history of officially-sanctioned violence they want to end, Young reported.
Garner, an asthmatic father of six, died on July 17 after he had been stopped by police for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
In cellphone video of the incident, an officer is seen placing his arm around Garner’s neck and then taking him to the ground after Garner refuses to be handcuffed.
Garner is heard saying repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!” He died a short time later.
The medical examiner’s office ruled Garner’s death a homicide, caused by the officer’s chokehold as well chest and neck compressions and prone positioning “during physical restraint by police.”
Asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors, the medical examiner said.
Chokeholds are banned by the NYPD, but allowed under state law.
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