BROOKLYN — Protesters enraged by the police's fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy filled the streets of East Flatbush for the second night in a row on Tuesday, but unlike the previous night, the demonstration did not turn violent.
More than 150 people, many carrying signs that said "Stop Killer Cops Now," marched down Church Avenue to the 67th Precinct stationhouse Tuesday night to protest the NYPD's shooting of Kimani "Kiki" Gray, who was fired on by two officers Saturday night.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said officers recovered a .38 caliber pistol at the scene — but said that no eywitnesses actually saw Gray aim the weapon at police, as some initial reports had claimed.
"He didn't even have a chance to live," said Desmond Walker, 25, who grew up in East Flatbush and was among the crowd that rallied outside the 67th Precinct at Snyder and Nostrand avenues on Tuesday.
"Put the guns down," Walker added, describing the message he hoped to send to the police. "Don't shoot first and ask questions later."
While there were some tense moments Tuesday night between the protesters and the dozens of police officers wearing riot gear, the scene was nothing like the chaos of Monday night, when an initially peaceful candlelight vigil for Gray devolved into a melee, with some protesters throwing bottles at cops and looting a Rite Aid.
In the wake of the violence, Gray's parents asked organizers not to hold the vigil that had been planned for Tuesday night, but many protesters decided to come out anyway.
"We don't need another riot," said Rickford Burke, who has been in touch with Gray's relatives and said they do not want to see any violence committed in Gray's name.
"The family just wants to bury their son," Burke said, standing apart from the protesters Tuesday night. "Everyone out here, they are not speaking on behalf of the family."
Monday's vigil erupted into chaos when a small group splintered off from the corner of 55th Street and Church Avenue and began heading toward the NYPD's 67th precinct, leaving a trail of destruction in its path, police and witnesses said.
Demonstrators tossed over garbage cans, hurled fruit and bottles at cops, smashed the windows of an MTA bus, and looted a Rite Aid, where they used a wine bottle to attack a customer who'd tried to stop them from stealing a cash register, officials and witnesses said.
Kelly said earlier Tuesday that police had intended to ramp up patrols Tuesday evening to stave off more potential violence.
“We’ll certainly have a significant number of police officers present,” he said.
There were about as many police officers as protesters outside the barricade-ringed 67th Precinct stationhouse Tuesday night. One brief clash occurred when protesters started pouring off the sidewalk into the street, but the demonstration mostly stayed under control.
Amid the chants of "NYPD KKK," there were many displays of strong emotion among the protesters, as when one woman screamed at police, "How can you sleep at night? I have three children!"
Gray's family plans to attend another vigil community organizers are holding at 7 p.m. Wednesday at East 55th Street and Church Avenue, representatives said.
And a larger rally is now being planned for Saturday — the one-week anniversary of Gray's death, said Sandra Mitchelin, 42, a community member who helped organize Monday's vigil. But she assured that, next time, things would not get out of hand.
"We can't have the kids going out and destroying the same neighborhood that we’re from,” she said.
Mourners had also held a vigil Sunday night.
Kelly said that, while the officers involved in the shooting had not yet been interviewed because of an agreement with the District Attorney's Office, there was "nothing to indicate that this shooting at this time was outside the guidelines."
He declined to comment on whether Gray was a known gang member, as some reports have suggested.