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Cop's funeral doesn't stop police-shooting protests in NYC

Akaila Gurley, 2, with family at a rally

Akaila Gurley, 2, with family at a rally for her late father Akai, 28, at the Louis H. Pink Houses public housing project in the East New York section of Brooklyn on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. Credit: Steven Sunshine

More than 200 protesters marched through the East New York section of Brooklyn Saturday, demanding justice for an unarmed black man killed by police last month.

They gathered at the Louis H. Pink Houses public housing project where Akai Gurley, 28, was shot and killed in a dark hallway. Police have said a rookie cop on patrol shot Gurley accidentally. Brooklyn prosecutors say they're presenting the case to a grand jury.

The killing sparked further outrage in the wake of a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict a white officer in the July death of Eric Garner, 43, a black man who died after being put in an apparent chokehold.

"Akai's murder is not an accident," Asere Bello, 40, one of the organizers, told the crowd. "We will end the militarization of our community." The peaceful protest was held hours after the Queens funeral of NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, 40, but demonstrators showed little sympathy for the shooting deaths of Ramos and his partner Dec. 20.

Former City Councilman and Assemb.-elect Charles Barron said he attended the march for justice. "We're not going to stop the fight for justice just because the mayor wants to mend relations with the police department," he said.

Brooklyn poet Aja Monet told the crowd the black community has long struggled for justice.

"I hear Bratton says that the NYPD were killed for their blue. I said to Bratton, brother, you don't know blue like blacks know blue," Monet said. "We are the blues. Our brothers bleed blue long before it's red."

Protesters marched across Linden Boulevard, briefly stopping traffic. As a police helicopter buzzed overhead, marchers called out familiar chants of "Shut it down!" and "How do you spell racist? NYPD!"

At the 75th Precinct, they faced more than a dozen officers behind barricades. Protesters turned with fists raised, showing their backs to the officers.

Retired postal worker Bernadine Bishop, 70, said she wants to see the cop who shot Gurley put on trial. "I'm tired of the police killing our brothers and sons and nephews," said Bishop, of Brooklyn. "If this one gets away with no indictments, then there's no hope for us."

Asked about marching on the day of Ramos' funeral, she said: "Nothing stopped for our brothers that were killed."

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