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Protesters Crowd Stores, Shut Down FDR Drive Again Over Grand Jury Decision In Eric Garner Case

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Protesters rallied for a third day Friday to protest a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.

Late Friday night, protesters were once again blocking the FDR Drive near the Williamsburg Bridge overpass, and were being warned that they would be arrested. The FDR was closed in both directions at Delancey Street as of just before 11 p.m., but lanes were slowly reopening.

They passed by a police barricade at Delancey Street and poured onto the expressway, CBS2's Sonia Rincon reported.

Earlier, one group of over 100 protesters lapped Columbus Circle, and then walked to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. They laid on the store's floor for a few minutes as a symbolic die-in.

The group then headed down sidewalks through the renowned Fifth Avenue shopping district, striding with signs and chants of ``black lives matter'' and ``I can't breathe.''

PHOTOS: Friday Night Eric Garner Protests

As CBS2's Rincon reported, the protesters later made it to the Rockefeller Christmas tree, where they had a brief standoff with police.

But the group did not stay long. Some decided it was not worth getting arrested after police at the plaza let them know it was private property.

"We are a peaceful movement. We abide by all laws. So we're going to keep it moving," a man said in a call-and-response chant.

And they did keep it moving, despite the cold, rainy conditions.

"The weather doesn't matter. This injustice has to stop," said protester Rob Strype. "I'm alive, so I have nothing to complain about, about a little rain."

A group of protesters at Herald Square also went inside Macy's and marched through the aisles. As CBS2's Matt Kozar reported, shoppers could barely move as the protesters flooded the first floor of the iconic department store. Some shoppers were frustrated, while others appreciated the message.

"I think it is okay that they tell their opinion," one passerby said.

The protesters came into Macy's with a purpose.

"We have to let people know," a protester said. "Dr. Martin Luther King said our freedom is intrinsically connected, and people don't understand that."

CBS2's Kozar said no violence or looting was seen inside Macy's.

And afterward, the rain and chill did not dissuade hundreds from protesting the grand jury's decision in the Eric Garner case.

"The guy said he could not breathe," said protester Ibrahim Grant. "Right there, they should have taken their hands off."

Commuters stepped over protesters who laid down for another die-in in the main hall at Grand Central Station. Police stood guard, but allowed the group to move without restrictions.

The protesters had been staying on sidewalks earlier, but later tied up traffic on 42nd Street from east to west late Friday evening.

A group of protesters later stood across Houston Street and blocked the road, causing major traffic jams. That was the group that later shut down the FDR, which they reached by walking through the Baruch Houses development.

Protesters At Macy's
Protesters angry about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury decisions head to Macy's in Herald Square. (Credit: Matt Kozar/CBS2)

Tourists and observers had mixed feelings about it all, but the protesters definitely had their attention, Rincon reported.

"I kind of expected to see them, because even in Texas we saw it on the news," said tourist Janey Daughrty. "But I guess I was surprised I saw it so quickly, and we've seen it several times just walking the streets tonight.

"I'm not too happy about the Ferguson protestors -- I think they're wrong," added Luke Matanin. "But the Garner (case), I think that's a reasonable cause to protest"

"I think there's something wrong, you know?" said Oscar Rosales. When asked if he was glad to see the protesters, he said: "I actually am. I am glad. If I had the time I would actually protest with them."

Earlier on Friday afternoon, demonstrators gathered in Union Square -- mainly teenagers who walked out of Brooklyn Prep High School in Williamsburg to protest the grand jury's decision, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

"We have a voice. As small as it may be, it matters. It will change something," one teenager said.

The students staged a sit-in then left peacefully, Diamond reported.

Brooklyn High School Students Protest In Union Square

In White Plains, about 65 people staged a "die-in" before marching two blocks to hear speeches on the steps of the Westchester County office building.

Some of the protesters wore hospital-type masks over their mouths with "We can't breathe'' written on them.

According to police sources, an estimated 10,000 people marched across New York City on Thursday, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported. Protesters gathered in Foley Square chanting "I can't breathe'' and "No justice, no peace.'' Another group started in Harlem.

"We're out here exercising our rights and everything is peaceful. There's no violence. There's no drugs. There's no anything," said protester John Dorsey. "Everybody is here together – black, white, brown everybody."

PHOTOS: Thursday Night Protests

The marchers kept moving in pockets of several hundred, disrupting traffic throughout Manhattan. One group headed to the West Side Highway near West 10th Street, shutting down the roadway for the second night in a row.

Others marched across the Brooklyn Bridge carrying replicas of coffins, temporarily shutting down the East River crossing to traffic.

Protesters Rally For Second Night

"Shut it down," could be heard being chanted by the group crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into downtown Brooklyn. Some protesters chanted "Eric Garner, Michael Brown, shut it down, shut it down," referring also to the Ferguson, Missouri case in which the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown was not indicted.

Protesters also targeted the Manhattan Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. Times Square, Herald Square and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal also saw their share of demonstrations.

The demonstrations have been taking place in New York City and around the country since the grand jury decided not to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with Garner's death.

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, died in July after police officers attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island.

In cellphone video of the incident, Pantaleo, who is white, is seen placing his arm around Garner's neck in an apparent chokehold and then taking him to the ground after Garner refuses to be handcuffed.

Garner, who was black, is heard saying repeatedly, "I can't breathe!" He died a short time later.

The New York City Medical Examiner's office ruled Garner's death a homicide, caused by the officer's apparent chokehold as well as chest and neck compressions and prone positioning "during physical restraint by police." Asthma, heart disease and obesity were also contributing factors.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donoval said the grand jury found "no reasonable cause" to bring charges against Pantaleo. Twelve of the 23 jurors needed to be in agreement for any charges to be filed.

On Thursday, a judge released limited information on the grand jury proceedings.

WEB EXTRA: Read Judge's Response To DA's Information Request

Police union officials and Pantaleo's lawyer said he used an authorized take down move and not a chokehold against Garner and said Garner's poor health was a main cause in his death.

Since the decision was announced, thousands of people have been united against the grand jury's clearing of Pantaleo. Garner's children say the magnitude of the protests has been moving.

"This is not a black or white issue. This is a national crisis," said Garner's daughter Erica Garner. "I greatly appreciate it. It's like a sense of I'm not the only one that feels this way."

"We're proud that everybody has been peaceful," said Garner's daughter Emerald Garner.

The marchers have been mostly peaceful, but there were multiple arrests Thursday and some shoving and pushing. One officer was seen being wheeled away on a stretcher in Midtown.

At the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Bowling Green, some protesters attempted to punch officers standing guard.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton praised the department for their handling of the marchers, saying they showed restraint and professionalism.

While he said he is concerned when roadways are blocked, he said it's something they have to deal with.

"But we're having to deal with it, the city is moving forward. We have a very large city, they've disrupted certain portions of the city, Manhattan specifically, but the impact on the city that we're all moving around today, there's no burned down buildings, there's no people in the hospital, so it is what it is," Bratton said.

Commissioner Bratton Praises Restraint Of NYPD, Protesters

But PBA President Patrick Lynch said it's not enough, blasting Mayor Bill de Blasio for what he claims is a lack of respect.

"What we need is a mayor to stand up with and for us as well," he said Thursday.

The mayor dismissed the allegations.

"I never get caught up in what critics say, particularly if they're doing it for their own agenda," de Blasio said Thursday.

The Garners insist the message is simple: Hold police accountable.

"We're not trying to burn down New York City," said Emerald Garner. "We're just trying to get our voices heard and get these policies enforced."

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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