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Protesters March Despite Mayor's Call for Moratorium Until Police Funerals

By Lisha Arino | December 23, 2014 7:27pm
 Protesters marched on Fifth Avenue on Dec. 23, 2014, calling for an end to police brutality.
Protesters March Through Midtown up to Harlem
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NEW YORK CITY — Hundreds of anti-police brutality protesters took the streets Tuesday — even after the mayor called for them to stop in the wake of two NYPD officers being shot to death in Bed-Stuy over the weekend.

In Midtown, protesters gathered for what was dubbed #ShutDown5thAve on social media, holding up signs and chanting, "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!" The protesters eventually met up with a group from the Bronx at 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.

At one point, a protester shouted "f--k the police" but the crowd groaned and the chant died.

The rally was the latest in a series of protests against the death of Eric Garner at the hands of an NYPD officer and Michael Brown by the Ferguson, Mo. police. Recently, the rallies, which grew to the tens of thousands, have become more violent with two officers being injured on the Brooklyn Bridge at one point.

Police Commissioner Bratton said that the deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos last Saturday appeared to be a "direct spinoff" of the protests.

In the wake of the killings, Mayor Bill de Blasio asked for a suspension of the protests as well as political rhetoric from the unions, which were furious over the mayor's support of the protesters.

Tuesday's protesters said they weren't marching in support of violence.

"We don't condone violence," said Sumumba Sobukwe, 46, of the group Occu-Evolve. "We're here because we want peace."

Curious tourists took photos of the marchers on their phones and cameras, with many of them ending up on the street to get around the protesters taking up the sidewalks.

Security officers at high-end stores stayed close to entrances, keeping an eye on protesters as they walked by, while staff at Tiffany & Co. closed their gate.

The demonstrators started at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, before moving to Madison Avenue and eventually further uptown, where they began to spill into the streets and draw the attention of residents who looked out apartment windows and stood at storefronts, snapping pictures.

"Eric Garner, Michael Brown, shut it down, shut it down," they yelled.

Some onlookers expressed concern about the protests.

"We're worried about what's happening to blacks, but we're also worried about what's happening to cops," said Christina McCabe of Tampa, Fla., who was there with her husband Steve.

Meanwhile, Illyse Conn from Plainview, LI, chanted along with the protesters and pumped her fist as they crossed 54th Street and Fifth Avenue. She said running into protesters while on the way to FAO Schwarz with her 8-year-old son was "unexpected and wonderful."

"This is freedom of speech," she told her son. "This is what America is about."