Hands up, walk out!

December 3, 2014

Julian Guerrero reports on the latest in a series of daily protests in New York City in response to the decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown.

HUNDREDS OF New York City youth took to the streets of lower Manhattan on Monday, December 1 in response to a call from Ferguson Action for students and working people to stage a walkout to bring attention to way the U.S. criminal justice system treats Black life so cheaply.

About 300 students from different high schools gathered at noon in Union Square, where many youth spoke about how the decision to not take indict Darren Wilson symbolized the continued racist discrimination embedded in this country's DNA. The anger and frustration echoed through the crowd as the people's mic was used to voice widespread disapproval of Ferguson's criminal justice system.

At 1 p.m., another contingent of high school youth marched into Union Square, and the mood of the crowd was ecstatic. The youth at the speakout were anxious to start marching, and they began by marching around Union Square before they decided to march up to Times Square.

What followed next was a back-and-forth with police as marchers tried over and over again to get off the sidewalk and march in the middle of the streets, a popular tactic of recent protests against the Darren Wilson verdict.

New York City students walk out of classes for justice
New York City students walk out of classes for justice (EventPhotosNYC)

By the time the marchers made it to 25th Street, the demonstration had swelled to nearly a thousand people trying to outmaneuver the NYPD. By then, the youth were accompanied by over 50 cops with helmets and batons at the ready and a brigade of police on scooters and in police vans.

The NYPD had already arrested three people--two youth helping to lead the march and a photographer who had stepped off the sidewalk momentarily to take photos of the young protesters.

The NYPD's response to the first few marches and actions in protest of Darren Wilson verdict was to let protestors take the street without any resistance. It was clear that the police decided to shift their response for this march.

The demonstrators took stock of this change and shifted tactics, making sure that their contingent never got too separated, all the while shaming the police with chants. At one point, the leaders of the march stopped the contingent to close the gaps between the marchers, as cops lined up and down the street.

Chants such as "Show me what a police state looks like, this is what a police state looks like" were directed at the heavy-handedness of the NYPD, but the most popular of the chants highlighted the militancy of the young protestors, "No justice, no peace! Fuck the police!" Several short videos give a feel for the mood on the march among both the protesters and the police.

Though some of the numbers dwindled, this militant and multiracial contingent of working-class youth was unfazed by the NYPD as they poured into Times Square. There, the demonstrators observed four-and-a-half minutes of silence, as Mike Brown's family has asked, and held another short speak-out.

By the time they left, the protesters had sent a clear message that young people in New York City want to keep fighting for Mike Brown and other victims of police terror.

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