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Frustration, Anger Over Police Killings Ignite New Protests

Protesters hold caskets as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge for the second night in a row following a decision by a grand jury not to indict an NYPD officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York.
Image credit: JOHN ANGELILLO

Frustration about two recent cases in which unarmed black men were killed by police brought new protests and road closures to New York City, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland and elsewhere Thursday.

Many of the demonstrators timed their marches to disrupt rush-hour traffic. In New York, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge was shut down, and protesters crowded the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry.

The demonstrations come as the U.S. Justice Department pursues its own investigations into the recent police killings of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner, 43, of Staten Island, N.Y. — two high-profile cases in which grand juries decided no charges should be filed.

The protests in New York have been mostly peaceful, with officials saying Thursday that only 83 arrests were made Wednesday night.

In Cleveland today, a crowd combined the protest slogans from those two cities into one. “Hands up,” they yelled, referring to Brown, followed by “can’t breathe,” referring to Garner.

Thursday afternoon, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that a review of Cleveland’s Division of Police showed it has “engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force,” a new development in a city that recently saw a police officer shoot and kill a boy, 12, who had been playing with an air gun.

The New York jury’s decision, announced Wednesday afternoon, set off demonstrations around the city. The case also prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to announce new training for the city’s 20,000 patrol officers, with respect and safety of residents high on the list of priorities.

On Twitter, two terms that began trending 24 hours ago remain among the most-discussed hashtags on the service: #ICantBreathe, a reference to Garner’s last words, and #CrimingWhileWhite, a discussion about race, law enforcement and equality.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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