Thousands of people marched through Staten Island on Saturday in a protest led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and relatives of Eric Garner, a black man who died after a white police officer put him in a banned chokehold last month. The way the 43-year-old black father of six was placed in a chokehold was captured in a widely circulated video and stoked outrage amid questions across the country about use of force by the police. (It also led Spike Lee to release a video in which he edits footage from Garner’s death with that of Do the Right Thing’s Radio Raheem.) The protesters gathered where Garner died and marched to the offices of the Staten Island district attorney. Garner’s sister, Ellisha Flagg, wore a red T-shirt with her brother’s picture and the words: “It stops today,” reports the New York Daily News.
“If you can do it to him, then you can do it to any citizen and we are not going to be silent when that happens,” Sharpton said at a pre-rally speech. There was some concern that the march would become chaotic considering the recent events in Ferguson, but at least by early afternoon those worries proved to have been unfounded as the protesters walked peacefully behind a banner that read “We Will Not Go Back, March for Justice.” Sharpton had been urging calm from the beginning. “If you are too angry to be nonviolent, stay here at the church or go home,” he said. Police estimate some 2,500 people took part in the march, reports the Associated Press. The city’s medical examiner has ruled Garner’s death was a homicide but no charges have been filed yet.