NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) -- At least 83 arrests have been made after thousands of New Yorkers protested in response to the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner's death Wednesday night into Thursday.
Large crowds descended on Times Square, Union Square, Rockefeller Plaza, Lincoln Tunnel and many spots throughout NYC in the aftermath of the grand jury decision. NYPD boss Bill Bratton says there were more than 30 arrests, but they have been largely non-violent.
Demonstrators could be heard chanting, "No justice, no tree" at the tree lighting ceremony as a play on the protest cry "no justice, no peace," along with "I can't breathe, I can't breathe."
Mayor de Blasio announced shortly after the grand jury's announcement that he would no longer attend the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting event.He held a press conference in Staten Island Wednesday afternoon in which he asked for peaceful demonstrations and urged all New Yorkers to be patient, citing NYPD reforms put in place under Commissioner Bratton.
"It's a very emotional day for our city, it's a very painful day for so many New Yorkers," de Blasio said. "These are long term reforms we are making to ensure we don't endure tragedies like this one again in the future."
A #JusticeforEricGarner march is also expected Thursday. Social media users have shared online fliers for the possible event in Foley Square.
"We want people who are black and who are white to understand why we are unhappy," one protester said. "I feel like if we can convey that through protests it's only a drop in the bucket but it's a step in the right direction."