Hundreds of people rallied in front of the Barclays Center, and other pop-up celebrations broke out across the city. While many called the verdict justice, activists say the fight is not over.
"This is only happening as a result of mad struggle," Bronx resident Sasha Murphy told CBS2.
"This was a victory won for and by the people," West New York resident Monica Cruz said.
For many who rallied in Union Square, the victory doesn't end here. They said this was their moment of hope and they're fighting to keep it from being their last.
"Justice, it seemed like a myth up until this point," said one demonstrator.
Leaders from Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and other activists had been pounding the pavement for years and say there is still work to do.
"It won't pacify us. We demand justice, we demand wholesale change," Strategy for Black Lives organizer Isaiah Fenichel said. "Because the reality is that it could be another person tomorrow."
"We're going to keep going until we bring it for the Eric Garners and the Breonna Taylors... Sean Bell, so many that did not get this night. This night is for them," said Rev. Al Sharpton, with the National Action Network.
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In Brooklyn, hundreds came out to celebrate in the same place they spent protesting last summer. Some said they felt vindicated.
"It's such a contrast. I was here around this time last year. So for the same topic, and it's a stark contrast right now," Greenpoint resident Don Brody said.
The overwhelming tone was a melancholy relief.
"It's hard for me to be celebratory, because I know how much work is left and what needs to be done," said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted saying justice had been served. Police said there were no protest-related arrests, property damage or injuries to officers.
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