This Article is From Dec 13, 2014

Thousands Demand Justice in Washington Over Police Killings

Thousands Demand Justice in Washington Over Police Killings

Protesters during a candle light vigil protesting the US police shooting. (Agence France- Presse)

Washington: Thousands of people descended on Washington to demand justice today for black men who have died at the hands of white police, the latest in weeks of demonstrations across the United States.

The families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were expected among the protesters in the heart of the US capital for the "Justice For All March" that was anticipated to be one of the biggest rallies of a movement sparked by the fatal August shooting of the unarmed Brown, 18, by a white policeman.

A grand jury decision last month not to indict police officer Darren Wilson over the killing in Ferguson, Missouri was followed by another grand jury decision that also declined to charge another white policeman in the "chokehold" death in Staten Island of father-of-six Garner.

Their deaths, and that of 12-year-old Tamir Rice -- shot dead last month by Cleveland police as he brandished a toy gun -- unleashed simmering resentment of police tactics in the United States and highlighted uneasy relations between African American men and law enforcement officials.

Rice's family and relatives of Trayvon Martin -- shot and killed in Florida by a neighborhood watchman in 2012 -- were also expected to attend the march.

Ahead of the march several thousand people massed at Freedom Plaza, a short walk from the White House, shouting "No justice, no peace!" -- a signature chant of the nationwide demonstrations -- and listening to speeches.

Garner's wife took to the stage before the energized crowd, vowing to stand up for all potential victims in honor of her slain husband.

"I am here not only for marching for Eric Garner, but for everyone's daughters and sons and nieces and nephews and dads and moms," Esaw Garner said.

Some in the crowd, which was made up of black and white people, many of them young, held aloft banners proclaiming, "Stop racist police," "I can't breathe," and "Black lives matter."

"I can't breathe" were the last words uttered by Garner, whom police wrestled to the ground in New York's Staten Island for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

'Until the job is done'

Speaking from the podium, Laura Murphy, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), bellowed: "We demand Congress pass a racial profiling act."

"We are here today, we will be here tomorrow, we will be here until the job is done," she said to loud cheers from the swelling crowd, who braved chilly temperatures in the US capital, where some roads were closed.

The atmosphere was largely defiant but peaceful, although police stood by in large numbers.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network and a prominent figure in rallies that have spread in recent weeks beyond Washington and New York, led the protest march, which was planned to make its way a short walk to the Capitol for more speeches.

Another rally was expected to take place in New York, scene of many protests in recent weeks.

Some of the demonstrations in the United States since Brown's killing in Ferguson four months ago have turned violent.

Last weekend protesters in Berkeley, California, threw bricks, rocks and pipes at police, who fired tear gas and smoke canisters to quell the angry crowds. Several police officers were injured.

And despite pleas from Brown's family, riots and looting broke out in Ferguson, a mainly black suburb of St Louis, after the jury decision not to indict Wilson, who said he shot the teenager because he feared for his life.