NBA players in New York support protests of police killings – Reuters

Posted: Tuesday, December 09, 2014

NEW YORK/BERKELEY, Calif. (Reuters) – Basketball stars in New York joined racially charged nationwide protests on Monday night against the failure of a grand jury to indict a white officer over the death of an unarmed black man after being put in a police chokehold.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and other players wore T-shirts emblazoned with Eric Garner’s last words “I CAN’T BREATHE,” in pre-game warmups at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate were among thousands who came to see the team play the Brooklyn Nets.

In California demonstrators blocked a train and a major freeway late on Monday, part of continuing night-time protests over the death in July of Garner, a father of six, which happened after police put him in a banned chokehold.

The decision in the Garner case came little more than a week after a Missouri grand jury cleared an officer in the fatal August shooting of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown.

In the California college town of Berkeley, near San Francisco, more than 50 people blocked an Amtrak train. Some lay on the tracks, while others sat on a sofa on the rails.

Several hundred protesters roamed Berkeley streets elsewhere on Monday night, blocking roads and shutting down a major freeway. Monday’s demonstrations came a day after police said five people were arrested when a hundreds-strong crowd threw rocks and other objects at officers and many stores were looted.

Outside Barclays Center, a group of about 300 protesters blocked streets and chanted, “I can’t breathe,” in memory of Garner, and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” a reference to Brown’s death in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

In downtown Phoenix, about 200 protesters marched to police headquarters over the killing of an unarmed black man by a white officer in what authorities described as a struggle last week.

Protesters demanded that police release the name of the officer involved in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon, a man police suspected of selling drugs.

REVIEW OF POLICE KILLINGS

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday sought the power to probe all police killings of unarmed civilians in the state.

It remained unclear whether New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would grant Schneiderman such powers. Like the Democratic mayor of New York, Cuomo has tried to walk a fine line — expressing concern about the grand jury’s decision not to charge an officer in Garner’s death while not alienating the police.

The order, if signed, would only affect new cases of unarmed civilians killed by police.

On Monday U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose office is investigating the Garner case, unveiled a set of changes to federal law enforcement guidelines intended to set an example for local police, according to a Justice Department official.

In Cleveland, where the U.S. Justice Department last week said police routinely use excessive force, Samaria Rice, the mother of a 12-year-old African-American boy shot dead by police in November, told reporters she was seeking a conviction.

Her son, Tamir Rice, was shot near a recreation center while carrying a pellet gun that was a replica of a real gun. The boy’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the two officers involved, one who shot Rice on Nov. 22 and one who was driving the police car.

“Tamir was a bright child, he had a promising future and he was very talented in all sports: soccer, basketball, football,” Rice said. “He was my baby.”

(Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Kim Palmer in Cleveland, Sebastien Malo in Brooklyn, Noel Randewich in Berkeley, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, and David Schwartz in Phoenix; Additional writing by Sharon Bernstein and Curtis Skinner; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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