UNION SQUARE — Hundreds of people took over city streets and stopped traffic Monday night in a march to Times Square and beyond protesting a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the Ferguson, Mo. shooting of an unarmed teen.
The crowd, which first gathered in Union Square ahead of the verdict to protest police brutality, observed a moment of silence about 9:30 p.m. when word spread that the Ferguson panel would not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of Michael Brown, 18.
"No justice, no peace, no racist police," the crowd chanted as they marched north from Union Square through Manhattan. Traffic was halted and police walked beside the protesters as they walked up Sixth and Seventh avenues in what was mostly a peaceful march.
The protests, though mostly focused on the deadly Missouri shooting, touched on the public's tension with law enforcement in New York City as well. It came on the heels of an incident in which a rookie NYPD officer fatally shot an unarmed father in a Brooklyn public housing stairwell.
The New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton visited the massive crowd when it reached Times Square only to have Diego Ibanez, 26, douse him with fake blood, officials said.
Bratton was not harmed and Ibanez was taken into custody on charges of assaulting a police officer, criminal mischief, obstruction of governmental administration, disorderly conduct, harassment and reckless endangerment, NYPD officials said. He was still awaiting arraignment Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Another man, Michael Steakin, 30, was arrested during the demonstrations after he threw a can at an officer near the intersection of Second Avenue and East 125th Street, police said. The man got into a brief scuffle with the officer and was taken into custody, police said.
He was still awaiting arraignment on charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and obstruction of government administration, officials said.
The officer, who injured his leg, was treated and released at St. Luke's hospital, an NYPD spokesman said.
"Black Lives Matter," read a neon sign in Union Square and protesters echoed the sentiment during their march.
"I'm marching for the lives that we have lost, for Mike Brown, for Amadou Diallo, because all lives matter," said Synead Nichols, 23, of Harlem. "All lives matter, not just black lives but every life."
Officer Wilson confronted Brown in the middle of a street in the St. Louis suburb after a convenience store was reportedly robbed.
Ferguson police maintain that Brown attacked the officer, but the man's family and forensic experts claim that his hands were up when he was shot six times.
The shooting became a symbol of police brutality and ongoing resentment throughout the country about the treatment of minorities by law enforcement.
The issue had special resonance in New York, where Eric Garner, an unarmed black man selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island, was killed by police apparently using an unauthorized chokehold.
Additional Reporting by Gustavo Solis