A group including lawyers Michael Coard, center face down, Lloyd Long III, center with sign, and others stage a 4:30 minute “die-in” protest Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, at the criminal justice center in Philadelphia. A number of protests have been staged around the country following recent grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers in New York and Ferguson, Mo., over the deaths of unarmed black men. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
NEW YORK (AP) — Scores of defense attorneys in New York City and elsewhere protested the criminal justice system’s handling of police killings of unarmed Black men by participating in marches and die-ins Wednesday.
In Brooklyn, public defenders and other lawyers marched at courthouses and a prosecutor’s office and staged a die-in outside a city jail. They later stood in front of a criminal court, chanting, “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe,” a reference to the last words of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island resident who was killed in July.
In Philadelphia, a group of lawyers participated in a die-in at the Criminal Justice Center.
Decisions by grand juries to not bring charges against police officers in the cases of Garner and of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, exposed flaws and reflect racism in the system, the lawyers in Brooklyn said.
Both Garner and Brown were Black. The officers involved are White.
“We wanted to lend or voices to protest what’s been going on for decades, not only in this courthouse but in courthouses across the five boroughs and across the United States in terms of a really unequal criminal justice system,” Deborah Wright, president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, said afterward.
Said another attorney, Nora Carroll: “We know that when a prosecutor wants an indictment, they can get one.”
Garner, a Black man, was killed after an officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes. The grand jury’s failure to indict has touched off a wave of protests, including one in Manhattan last week that drew tens of thousands of people.