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NYC demonstrations mostly peaceful but take over roadways

Protesters gather in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, Nov.

Protesters gather in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in response to the grand jury decision regarding the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Crowds incensed over a grand jury decision not to indict in Ferguson, Missouri's fatal police shooting rose up across Manhattan Tuesday night, with thousands fanning down from Times Square to Union Square and crossing major bridges, blocking key arteries -- from the Lincoln Tunnel to the FDR Drive -- before returning to midtown.

In largely peaceful but tense demonstrations under the eye of the NYPD, people chanted, "Black lives matter" and "Hands up, don't shoot," a day after the Missouri grand jury declined to hand up criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man. Stuck motorists honked in support.

"I can't just sit by and watch people take authority and abuse it," said Shavina Que, 28, a Forest Hills sales analyst who said she thought of her future children as she navigated down Seventh Avenue in lower Manhattan.

In contrast to Ferguson, where buildings and cars were set ablaze and gunfire erupted, there were few scuffles and just a handful of arrests reported.

The NYPD said 10 people were arrested Tuesday night in Times Square, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Four people were charged with resisting arrest and six with disorderly conduct. There were no injuries, police said.

Officers walked alongside demonstrators and others blocked marchers' access to roadways with motorcycles or cruisers. Parts of the FDR Drive were shut down in both directions in lower Manhattan.

Later, several hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the United Nations and raised their hands in a moment of silence. Others crossed into Brooklyn.

Hundreds marched through the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill. They were tailed by police on foot, on scooters, in cruisers and by at least one police helicopter.

"It's where the tears can't fall no more," said Terrance Coffie, 45, a computer lab manager from Harlem, referring to how heartsick people felt.

Demonstrators said they were buoyed by the diversity among marchers. "It shows solidarity," said Stephanie Eugene, 21, of Crown Heights.

When hundreds of other protesters returned to Times Square before midnight, they chanted and held signs, some with images of Brown and others with marquee-style lights saying "Unite 4 Justice."

Travis Morales, a 62-year-old self-described revolutionary communist, shouted chants over a megaphone. "There has to be no business as usual," he said.

Kevina Newton, 18, a New York University student from the West Village, joined the protest near Times Square after she, her mother and grandmother had taken in a Broadway show.

"I wanted to be part of the movement," she said. "I feel like there has been a lot of injustice" against people of color.

Several hundred people marched up the West Side Highway early Wednesday into Harlem, the end of a demonstration that was peaceful.

About 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, many of the people remaining in Times Square sat on the ground and listened to speakers as motor traffic flowed freely.

About a dozen City Council members made clear their disappointment with the lack of an indictment of Wilson by staging a walkout at City Hall during a council meeting.

Earlier, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said the department was giving demonstrators "breathing room" to express outrage.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to create distance between the NYPD's recent fatal encounters with unarmed black men and the Ferguson shooting. "Each and every incident is different," he said.


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