A group of people in New York are rallying against pro-police supporters in Staten Island, where unarmed Black man Eric Garner was killed in July by an officer executing a choke hold while Garner gasped, “I can’t breathe.”
Occu-Evolve, a growing offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, braved below freezing temperatures to crash the pro-police rally, angry and offended that a group of people would make a public display of backing law enforcement that was responsible for Garner’s death.
“We feel that it’s not only highly disrespectful and inappropriate, but it’s a slap in the face of people that are for justice,” said Sumumba Sobukwe, who organized the response.
Another Occu-Evolve protester who identified himself only as Will to NewsOne.com said: “Police are using violence to oppress Black and Latino people of color on a regular basis. So when people come out in support of police violence, essentially, they’re supporting the cop that murdered Eric Garner.”
A Hunter College student, he added that their movement will grow.
“One of the most important things is just to show solidarity, to show that there are people out here that are trying to change the way that we’re living,” he said. “But it’s also—for me as an organizer—it’s important to come out in order to network and meet other people who are trying to make change.”
The pro-police supporters, who are white, had a clash with the Occu-Evolve group on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan in December at a #ThankYouNYPD rally.
Sobukuwe said those who rally around cops ”don’t live in our communities, they don’t deal with the things that we deal with.”
“These pro-cop rallies are pretty much an event to ridicule people standing up for their rights,” a protester who gave his name as Dariel said. He’s a member of Shut It Down NYC, a “grassroots organization dedicated to fighting NYPD corruption, brutality, misconduct & mismanagement,” its Twitter page says.
“It’s a shame that cops have the nerve to [hold pro-police rallies], especially [in] Staten Island—a borough where someone was killed at the hands of law enforcement. Them doing that is them mocking the protesters.”