Six hours after a “die-in” on Wall Street condemning the no-indictments of the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, protestors took to the streets to rally against police brutality, racial profiling and perceived injustices in the grand jury system.
The protestors, 300 strong, began at the intersections of Church and Chapel Streets. “The system is guilty,” read one sign held by a protester. “We can’t breathe because systematic racism suffocates justice,” read another.
Speaking to the crowd, Norman Clement — a member of the national organization Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition, who also helped organize a protest on the steps of City Hall Monday — decried police brutality.
“We want to find out where we’re going to go from here,” Clement told the crowd.
They then marched east across southern Downtown before turning north at Park Street. They chanted slogans of “No peace, no justice” and “I can’t breathe,” the latter being Eric Garner’s last words before his death. In front of Gourmet Heaven on Broadway, the protestors staged a “die-in,” lying flat on the ground in tribute to Michael Brown, whose body lay on the street for four and a half hours after his death.
During the march, various speakers led the group. At the intersection of Park and Chapel, the group paused for several minutes of silence as a light, freezing rain fell.
In the Broadway Triangle they chanted a quote from the African-American activist Assata Shakur: “It is our duty to fight; it is our duty to win; we must love each other and protect each other; and we have nothing to lose but our chains.”
The march was composed of Yale students and New Haven residents alike and blocked the flow of traffic along its route. Protestors beat drums and held signs, published by the Answer Coalition, depicting a clenched fist.
“I came out to represent for the American citizens – for the black citizens, for all citizens – against the police officers for the crimes that they commit,” said Darnell Young, a New Haven resident. His young daughter held a poster saying “Skin color is not probable cause.”
At the intersection of Park and Chapel, the group paused for a moment of prayer as police officers looked on and cars sat unmoving.
“People are praying, people are marching, and people are mad as hell,” said one marcher through a megaphone. Meanwhile, the protestors surrounding him bowed their heads in silence.