Thousands of people are expected to join marches in Washington and New York City Saturday to demand that police be held accountable for their use of force in cases that led to the deaths of unarmed black men and a 12-year-old boy.
The two marches seek to build on protests that have been staged across the nation since grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island decided not to indict police officers in two summer killings.
In Washington, D.C., a Justice for All march, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and families of those killed in recent encounters with police, will include the participation of four dozen civil rights and other groups and is expected to draw people from across the nation, organizers at the National Action Network said. Several busloads of Long Islanders planned to join them.
The march will include the families of Eric Garner, 43, who died July 17 after an apparent police chokehold during an arrest on Staten Island; Michael Brown, 18, shot by police Aug. 9 during a street confrontation in Ferguson, and Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old carrying a BB gun shot dead Nov. 22 by a police officer in Cleveland.
"This march is one of many demonstrations to show Congress, the country and the world that we will not stand down until [there is] systemic change, accountability and justice in cases of police misconduct," said Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, a co-convener of the Justice for All march.
The Washington protest is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. with a rally at Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the White House. A march down Pennsylvania Avenue is set to begin at noon and end an hour later near the Capitol Building, where another rally will be held.
Meanwhile, protesters are planning a Millions March NYC in Manhattan this afternoon.
The group plans to assemble at 2 p.m. at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village and march to the busy Herald Square shopping hub before turning downtown via Broadway to NYPD headquarters at Foley Square.
For more than a week New York demonstrators have staged "die-ins" and other protests inside stores filled with shoppers. Synead Nichols, 23, a student from Harlem who is an organizer of today's march, said protests at businesses are "not something in the works" Saturday, but he acknowledged they may happen.
The group, which describes itself as a "coalition of young, multiracial activists," is calling for the immediate firing and indictment of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose arrest of Garner for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes led to his death.
NYPD spokesman Det. Martin Speechley said the department is aware of Saturday's march and hopes it is peaceful.
On Friday, a group of religious leaders, activists, community organizers and others gathered at City Hall Friday and called on elected officials to implement policy changes, including the creation of a special prosecutor for police shootings. They also want a pilot program for NYPD body cameras expanded and made permanent.
With Chau Lam