Seizing on the growing backlash against police brutalization and discriminatory mass incarceration, people across the country on Tuesday took to the streets. With mass demonstrations, sit-ins, and blockades, protesters in 30 cities demanded an end to “business as usual” within the U.S. criminal justice system.
According to organizers, 1,500 people marched in the streets of New York City, stopping traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, while close to 1,000 rallied outside police headquarters in Los Angeles and hundreds converged on Daley Center Plaza in Chicago. And in smaller cities like Springfield, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Stockton, Calif.; and Gainesville, Fla., community members also joined in the growing chorus of voices calling for change.
The police, however, came out in force against the largely peaceful demonstrations, with numerous reports of injuries and arrests: 15 arrested in Springfield; 3 in Birmingham, Alabama; and roughly a dozen detained in New York City with reported incidents of violence against protesters.
“After a winter of murder after murder, video upon video, passivity has been cracked,” protest organizer Carl Dix, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, said in a statement. “A door opened to a new wave of defiant resistance to say that this murder of Black and Latino people must STOP.”
These latest demonstrations come one week after an unarmed black man was shot in the back by a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The movement—which was sparked in August 2014 after officer Darren Wilson shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri—has captured national attention, with the rallying cry “Black Lives Matter” gracing the most recent cover of Time magazine.
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However, activists say growing awareness is not enough and are vowing to keep up the pressure until systemic changes are made.
“We’ve got a black president, a black attorney general, a black Cabinet secretary of Homeland Security, but we haven’t had one federal prosecution of a policeman for killing all of those folks,” professor and activist Dr. Cornel West, who along with Dix organized the day of action, declared before the New York City crowd.
Throughout the day, images were shared online under the hashtag #ShutdownA14.