NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Protesters rallied for a third day Friday to protest a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.
Late Friday night, protesters were once again blocking the FDR Drive near the Williamsburg Bridge overpass, and were being warned that they would be arrested. The FDR was closed in both directions at Delancey Street as of just before 11 p.m., but lanes were slowly reopening.
They passed by a police barricade at Delancey Street and poured onto the expressway, CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported.
Earlier, one group of over 100 protesters lapped Columbus Circle, and then walked to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. They laid on the store’s floor for a few minutes as a symbolic die-in.
The group then headed down sidewalks through the renowned Fifth Avenue shopping district, striding with signs and chants of “black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”
As CBS2’s Rincon reported, the protesters later made it to the Rockefeller Christmas tree, where they had a brief standoff with police.
But the group did not stay long. Some decided it was not worth getting arrested after police at the plaza let them know it was private property.
“We are a peaceful movement. We abide by all laws. So we’re going to keep it moving,” a man said in a call-and-response chant.
And they did keep it moving, despite the cold, rainy conditions.
“The weather doesn’t matter. This injustice has to stop,” said protester Rob Strype. “I’m alive, so I have nothing to complain about, about a little rain.”
A group of protesters at Herald Square also went inside Macy’s and marched through the aisles. As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, shoppers could barely move as the protesters flooded the first floor of the iconic department store. Some shoppers were frustrated, while others appreciated the message.
“I think it is okay that they tell their opinion,” one passerby said.
The protesters came into Macy’s with a purpose.
“We have to let people know,” a protester said. “Dr. Martin Luther King said our freedom is intrinsically connected, and people don’t understand that.”
CBS2’s Kozar said no violence or looting was seen inside Macy’s.
And afterward, the rain and chill did not dissuade hundreds from protesting the grand jury’s decision in the Eric Garner case.
“The guy said he could not breathe,” said protester Ibrahim Grant. “Right there, they should have taken their hands off.”
Commuters stepped over protesters who laid down for another die-in in the main hall at Grand Central Station. Police stood guard, but allowed the group to move without restrictions.
The protesters had been staying on sidewalks earlier, but later tied up traffic on 42nd Street from east to west late Friday evening.
A group of protesters later stood across Houston Street and blocked the road, causing major traffic jams. That was the group that later shut down the FDR, which they reached by walking through the Baruch Houses development.
Tourists and observers had mixed feelings about it all, but the protesters definitely had their attention, Rincon reported.
“I kind of expected to see them, because even in Texas we saw it on the news,” said tourist Janey Daughrty. “But I guess I was surprised I saw it so quickly, and we’ve seen it several times just walking the streets tonight.
“I’m not too happy about the Ferguson protestors — I think they’re wrong,” added Luke Matanin. “But the Garner (case), I think that’s a reasonable cause to protest”
“I think there’s something wrong, you know?” said Oscar Rosales. When asked if he was glad to see the protesters, he said: “I actually am. I am glad. If I had the time I would actually protest with them.”
Earlier on Friday afternoon, demonstrators gathered in Union Square — mainly teenagers who walked out of Brooklyn Prep High School in Williamsburg to protest the grand jury’s decision, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“We have a voice. As small as it may be, it matters. It will change something,” one teenager said.
The students staged a sit-in then left peacefully, Diamond reported.