STATEN ISLAND (PIX11) – Thousands of marches are expected to descend on Staten Island Saturday for a rally against police brutality in memory of a father who died after being put into an illegal chokehold by an NYPD officer.
Eric Garner, 43, died July 17 near Victory Boulevard and Bay Street while he was being arrested for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes in front of a bodega.
Witness video shows a police officer put Garner in an apparent chokehold – a move that’s been prohibited for some 20 years – and Garner repeatedly telling officers he couldn’t breathe. Minutes later, he was dead.
The officer who allegedly used the illegal move was placed on modified duty. Four EMS responders were suspended without pay.
On Saturday, some 15,000 supporters will march through Staten Island demanding further investigation into Garner’s death and an end to what they call violent and harassing tactics used by officers.
They'll take the Staten Island Ferry from lower Manhattan, and buses from New Jersey, Connecticut and surrounding states to attend the march.
Expected among those marching is the family of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was killed by a police officer in a St Louis suburb, touching off days of unrest and bringing to national attention long-simmering racial tensions in a city of predominantly black residents run almost entirely by white leaders.
Violence marred the protests in memory of Brown, and Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network is coordinating Saturday’s march, said he’s determined that it will be peaceful.
“If anything were to happen, we’d be the first one to stop and turn those people out of our march. We do not lead violent marches,” Sharpton said.
The “We Will Not Go Back” rally is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. Saturday. It’ll originate at Victory Boulevard and Bay Street, near the site of Garner’s death, and continue to the District Attorney’s Office then to the 120 Precinct stationhouse.
Some businesses along the route said they’ll close their doors Saturday because of the rally’s sheer size.