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Eric Garner death protests, 'die-ins' continue at Barclays Center

About 200 demonstrators chanted

About 200 demonstrators chanted "Hands up! Don't shoot!" and let their bodies go limp on the plaza outside the Barclays Center on Dec. 8, 2014 as the Brooklyn Nets basketball team prepared to host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

About 200 demonstrators chanted "Hands up! Don't shoot!" and let their bodies go limp on the plaza, the streets and a shopping mall outside the Barclays Center Monday night as the Brooklyn Nets basketball team prepared to host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The venue was also slated to host the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, who attended the basketball game.

The demonstrators lay on the ground for several minutes as dozens of police watched and commuters rushed into and out of the subway station at the center.

Some laid down inside the Atlantic Center in front of Target, on escalators. Others chose to stage a "die in" at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues and continued to do so throughout the evening, often blocking traffic.

The mostly peaceful protesters were drawing attention to the decisions by grand juries not to indict police officers in the two most recent cases of what they called police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by an officer, and on Staten Island, where Eric Garner was killed after being subdued by police who suspected him of illegally peddling loose cigarettes. The cases are racially charged because the officers were white, and the suspects were black men who demonstrators said were victims of excessive force by law enforcement.

"Be an officer, not an accomplice," read one sign a protester carried. Another was simply a peace sign on a stick.

The group split into two, one staying stationed in front of the Barclays Center and the other marching in a circle around the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues. The groups then rejoined on the plaza in front of the arena, chanting "I can't breathe," Garner's last words.

Carl Vilain, 29, arrived at the protest after finishing his job.

The Flatbush resident, who is a member of the painters union, said it was important to keep the protests going. There have been similar demonstrations in Manhattan, on Long Island and in cities throughout the country during the last week.

"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."

Several protesters thought the big stage of the Barclays Center would help, but didn't come specifically for the royal couple's visit.

Christine Guarini, 29, bought tickets to the Nets game in order to see the royal couple. As she arrived to the game, she skirted around the large group of protesters stationed 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."

She said the group made it a little more difficult to get in to the arena, but it wasn't too bad.

"I think everybody has their own opinion and their right to protest," she said. "We live in the United States and you have freedom of speech and I think that's fine. To each his own."

Others could be heard grumbling as they tried to enter the arena, a small line forming to get inside.

As people streamed out of the Barclays Center after the game, the protesters -- their numbers having dwindled to about 50 -- blocked one entrance to the subway. People from the game were being let out of the side in order to get the other entrances of the subway.

-- With Zachary R. Dowdy

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