NBA superstar LeBron James took part in warm-ups Monday night at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in a shirt with "I Can't Breathe" written across the front -- a tribute to Eric Garner's dying words.
Hours before at City Hall, Council members wore shirts with the same message written 11 times -- the number of times Garner made the statement to the NYPD officers piled on top of him last July.
James, in Brooklyn with the Cleveland Cavaliers to play the Nets, also wore the shirt as he was introduced in the starting lineup.
"As a society, we have to do better, we have to be better for one another, doesn't matter what race you are," James said before the game when asked why he wore the shirt. "But it's more of a shout-out to the family more than anything because they are the ones that should be getting more of the energy and effort more than anybody."
On Wednesday, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with Garner's death from an apparent chokehold.
Council members in black shirts with Garner's last words were among 12 who staged a "die-in" outside City Hall to protest the decision.
Council members marched to Broadway to show support for the thousands who have taken to the streets in protest.
Nearly a week after Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. announced the jury's decision, demonstrations continued Monday night. Many on the street have demanded federal action against Pantaleo and the NYPD.
Brooklyn federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch has opened an investigation into Garner's death. But it could take from five months to nearly four years to decide whether to bring civil rights charges, according to government statistics and legal experts.
Brooklyn prosecutors took a median of 151 days or five months to get indictments for civil rights charges against law enforcement, according to federal statistics compiled for the last five fiscal years by the non-profit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which is affiliated with Syracuse University. The office took a median of 1,409 days or 3.8 years when it decided not to bring a case, the data showed.
Lynch, who is U.S. attorney general-designate to succeed Eric Holder, said in a statement that the investigation of the Garner case would be conducted "as expeditiously as possible."
Outside Brooklyn's sparkling Barclays Center, protests over the Garner case continued, both noisy and silent. Basketball fans navigated by protesters before they passed through turnstiles. Security was heavy around the arena because the duke and duchess of Cambridge attended the game. Protesters outside Barclays went silent just before 7 p.m. for their own version of a "die-in."
Carl Vilain, 29, arrived at the protest after work. The Flatbush resident said it was important to keep the protests going.
"Everybody needs to get together and stop this," he said. "It's just important to be here. If we don't stand together, then we have no unity. We need to do this."
Christine Guarini, 29, bought tickets so she could see the royal couple. As she arrived, she skirted around protesters just feet away.
"I did not expect this. When I arrived I actually thought it was for the royal couple," she said about the crowd. "This is definitely an interesting sight to see."
With Alison Fox,
Mike Gavin and Emily Ngo