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Eric Garner protesters plan acts despite 23 arrests

On a street near Gracie Mansion in Manhattan

On a street near Gracie Mansion in Manhattan on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, demonstrators are arrested after taking part in a sit-in to mark the anniversary of the grand jury decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Credit: Charles Eckert

Protest organizers vowed to step up citywide demonstrations to call for the “immediate firing” of NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is accused of using an apparent chokehold that killed Eric Garner last year but was not indicted by a Staten Island grand jury.

Twenty-three protesters were arrested Thursday night at Gracie Mansion after they blocked East End Avenue traffic for about 30 minutes. Police placed plastic handcuffs on them and moved them into police vans. The demonstrators were issued summons for disorderly conduct and refusing to disperse, according to police. They are scheduled to appear in summons court in January, said Susan Howard, executive director of the National Lawyer’s Guild NYC, whose attorneys represent the demonstrators.

Carmen Perez, executive director of the social media activist group, Gathering for Justice, said “a series of new protests” are being organized since Police Commissioner William Bratton announced this week that the department will hold off on its internal review until a federal investigation is complete.

Federal prosecutors are investigating possible civil rights violations against Pantaleo, who has been placed on modified duty since Garner’s death in July 2014. Garner died when police tried to arrest him for selling loose untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island. The arrest was caught on cellphone video and ignited a wave of police brutality protests across the city and nation last winter.

“We will hit the streets in the cold and snow like last year until we see justice,” said Perez, whose group will join Garner’s daughter Erica Garner in Staten Island to mark the one year anniversary when a Staten Island grand jury did not indict Pantaleo for the death of her father, 42.

“We will be showing up tonight [Friday night] at the 120th Precinct where Officer Pantaleo worked at the time when Eric Garner was killed,” said Perez. “A lot of organizations are coming together. People are feeling the energy.’’

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