By VERENA DOBNIK
NEW YORK (AP) — The mother and widow of an unarmed black man whose police chokehold death sparked protests across the country said Saturday they’ve been moved by the thousands of peaceful demonstrators who have taken to the streets after a grand jury declined to indict the white officer involved.
“It is just so awesome to see how the crowds are out there,” said Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, who added that she ended up stuck in her car after protests shut down traffic.
“I was just so proud of that crowd,” Carr said. “It just warmed my heart.”
Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, said she saw demonstrators from her apartment window and told her son, “Look at all the love that your father’s getting.”
Demonstrators around the country have staged die-ins and other protests since the Garner grand jury’s decision Wednesday, which closely followed a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Officers have said the outcry over the grand jury decision has left them feeling betrayed and demonized by everyone from the president and the mayor to throngs of protesters who scream at them on the street.
“Police officers feel like they are being thrown under the bus,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the police union.
Garner’s family members joined the Rev. Al Sharpton later Saturday as Sharpton laid a wreath at the site on Staten Island where Garner died July 17 in a confrontation that started when police tried to arrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
An amateur video seen by millions showed Garner gasping, “I can’t breathe” during the fatal encounter.
“All we’re concerned about is justice from the police,” said Garner’s stepfather, Benjamin Carr, who wore a T-shirt with the words, “Enough is enough.”
Protests continued in New York City for a fourth day with several dozen people lying down on the floor of Grand Central Terminal. There were no reports of arrests.
On Friday night, 20 protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges in New York, police said. Hundreds of demonstrators marched and many briefly laid down in Macy’s flagship store, Grand Central and an Apple store. They streamed along Fifth Avenue sidewalks and other parts of Manhattan, with signs and chants of “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”
In Oakland, California, hundreds of protesters briefly blocked Interstate 880, a major freeway, on Friday night. There were no immediate reports of any arrests or injuries.
Protests have also been held in Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami and a number of other cities.
Sharpton announced plans this week for a march in Washington, D.C., next Saturday to protest the killings of Garner, Brown and others and to press for change at the federal level.
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