NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton held an event in Harlem Wednesday with the family of Michael Brown — a day after 10 people were arrested as thousands again protested the decision not to indict a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager.
Garner died in July after being placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer. An unarmed Gurley was fatally shot by a rookie police officer in Brooklyn last week.
Sharpton said he hopes “America realizes the pain of these families,” and led them through what he called a bonding prayer.
“They share each others’s pain and understand what we don’t understand,” Sharpton said.
“Because not only do they share the pain of being victims of police conduct, but this will be their first Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table,” the reverend added.
As 1010 WINS’ Darius Radzius reported, the Brown family said they want an independent prosecutor to handle cases in all death caused by police.
The appearance came after two days of protests over the Missouri grand jury’s decision.
Tuesday night’s arrests occurred in Times Square. Four people were charged with resisting arrest and six with disorderly conduct.
The protesters gathered in Union Square before splitting up into separate groups, chanting “No justice, no peace.”
Protesters also shut down 34th Street, many of them high school and college students. Others spontaneously joined the crowds.
“Actually, I just came to go shopping and I saw the marching so I joined in,” said protester Brenda Gibson.
Many claimed the grand jury decision in Ferguson was part of a larger pattern of police abuses.
“This is actually a human rights issue,” said protester Verika Edwards.
They caused traffic disruptions on the FDR Drive and congregated at the entrances to the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
Protesters also targeted the Lincoln Tunnel and tried to shut down the entrance, which lead to a tense standoff between police that delayed traffic for about half an hour.
“I do this drive every day and they came up behind me,” said driver Zollie Benton. “Once I seen that, I got a little nervous, hoping it didn’t get out of hand.”
In Brooklyn, demonstrators took to Flatbush and Dekalb avenues.
There were no injuries. Police say the protests were largely peaceful.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said officers were giving protesters “breathing room.”
“As long as they remain nonviolent, and as long as they don’t engage in issues that cause fear or create vandalism, we will work with them to allow them to demonstrate,” he said.
Other large demonstrations were held across the country.
The second night of protests came as Officer Darren Wilson broke his long public silence, insisting on national television that he could not have done anything differently in the confrontation with Brown.
Wilson, 28, had been with the Ferguson police force for less than three years before the Aug. 9 shooting the killed Brown.
He told ABC News that Brown’s shooting was the first time he fired his gun on the job.
Wilson said he only fired at Brown when Brown was facing him and never when his back was turned. And he said he saw in the teenager a high level of aggression and anger that was “almost unfathomable.”
During their confrontation, he said, “The only emotion I ever felt was fear and then it was survival and training.”
Asked whether the encounter would have unfolded the same way if Brown had been white, Wilson said yes. Wilson said he has a clean conscience because “I know I did my job right.”
Wilson said he understands Wilson’s parents’ anger because they are grieving their son. He said, “I’m sorry that their son lost his life.”
Speaking Wednesday on “CBS This Morning,” Brown’s parents expressed outrage over Wilson’s account of the incident.
“I don’t believe a word of it,” Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden said. “I know my son far too well. He would never do anything like that. He would never provoke anyone to do anything to him and he would never do anything to anybody.”
She said her son “does not have a history of violence” and said “one image does not paint an entire person’s life.”
“His conscience is clear? How could your conscience be clear after killing somebody even if it was an accidental death?” McSpadden said.
McSpadden also addressed the violent aftermath in Ferguson following the grand jury’s decision not to charge Wilson in Brown’s death.
“On Aug. 9, voices were heard about if there weren’t an indictment, how they would react, how they would lash out, what they would do,” McSpadden said. “We continued to ask for calm, we continued to get out there and protest with them in a peaceful manner. Anything that happened when we weren’t there, we can’t be held accountable for.”
The toll from Monday’s protests, 12 commercial buildings burned to the ground, plus eight other blazes and a dozen vehicles torched, prompted Missouri governor Jay Nixon to send a large contingent of extra National Guard troops.
Demonstrators returned Tuesday to the riot-scarred streets, but with hundreds of additional troops standing watch over neighborhoods and businesses, the protests had far less destructive power than the previous night. However, officers still used some tear gas and pepper spray, and demonstrators set a squad car on fire and broke windows at City Hall.
Videos that were widely circulated on Tuesday showed McSpadden standing atop a car and breaking down as the announcement of the grand jury decision blares over the stereo.
Her husband, Brown’s stepfather, comforts her, then begins angrily yelling “Burn the b—- down!” to a crowd gathered around him.
Asked about the comment at a news conference Tuesday, family attorney Benjamin Crump said the reaction was, “raw emotion. Not appropriate at all. Completely inappropriate.”
“He was emotional, he was chanting in the crowd,” McSpadden said. “We don’t condone it.”
The Brown family attorneys said they hope an ongoing federal civil rights investigation leads to charges. But federal investigations of police misconduct face a steep legal standard, requiring proof that an officer willfully violated a victim’s civil rights.
The Justice Department has also launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.
Regardless of the outcome of the federal investigations, Brown’s family also could file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Wilson.
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:
- Newark 7-Year-Old’s Death Ruled A Homicide, Mother’s Boyfriend Charged
- ‘An Absolute Disgrace’: Outrage As Teen Gets Up To 4 Years In Prison After Dragging NYPD Officer, Leaving Him With Brain Damage
- James Gandolfini’s Son Cast As Young Tony In ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Film
- 1 Dead, 5 Month Old Hurt After 4-Alarm Fire Rips Through Home In Queens
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)