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A Report From The Ferguson Protests In NYC’s Union Square

A report from one of several Ferguson-related protests happening in NYC Tuesday night.

November 25, 2014

Based on an estimate overheard on a police radio, there were between 400 and 500 people in Union Square just before 6PM to protest the Ferguson grand jury's decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson. When that first group headed southbound up Broadway, shouting Hands up, Don't shoot as they went, hundreds more replaced them. By 7:15 p.m., what seemed like twice that original number had assembled and were slowly marching around the perimeter of the park, jostling signs and chanting in unison: No justice, No peace. Indict! Convict! Send the killer off to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell! Depending on where you were in the procession, the chants were different, but they were all loud. Though there was friction between police and protestors elsewhere around Manhattan, the events unfolding near Union Square remained peaceful.

Protester Aman Batra, 22, wasn't part of the protest the previous night, when the grand jury first revealed their decision. "I was basically paralyzed," she told FADER. "I was just getting off the train [when I heard], and my heart was so heavy." Tonight, she came straight from work. "I'm fulfilling my duty as a woman, as a person of color, as someone who loves people unconditionally," she said. "That's why I'm out here—we're able to channel our anger into something beautiful. We're not bigger than the people that oppress us if we fire back at them. This, in my eyes, is a very peaceful protest, and that's what I'm about."

A few steps away, Sarah Wellington, a member of an artists' activist group called We Will Not Be Silenced, was quickly assembling signs and handing them out to people as they walked by. The signs were all black with bold-faced white lettering, and had messages like POLICE BRUTALITY IS TYRANNY and THIS IS RESISTANCE. Wellington told FADER that she was in Times Square on Monday night, where she handed out nearly 150 signs. "Last night, many people stayed out to 5:30 in the morning and were actually sitting down in an intersection in front of the Brooklyn Bridge," she said. "When we were driving home, we spotted them there, holding our signs up. That was inspiring."

On the other side of the park, K. Lamonte Jones, a law student in his 40s, had wrapped himself in chains. "The chains are symbolic of bondage around our necks—the oppression," Jones told FADER. "The heaviness of these chains pails in comparison to the burden that we carry." A circle assembled around him, and Jones fell to his knees. On the fringes of that circle, Antione Wallace, a 25-year-old IT consultant from Queens, was taking pictures. "I'm not much of a screamer, I'm not much of a yeller—so I take pictures," Wallace said. "If my picture could convey something to someone who couldn't be here, then that's what I'm here to do." Later, when this same group spilled out into the street and started marching south along 4th avenue, a car honked. One protestor in the line responded to the noise calmly, but affirmatively: "Oh, shut up and end racism."

A man in chains kneels down to the ground at New York protest against the #FergusonVerdict.
A photo posted by The FADER (@thefader) on
A Report From The Ferguson Protests In NYC’s Union Square