Eric Garner protesters shut down major NYC bridge during morning rush

Eric Garner protesters shut down major NYC bridge during morning rush
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By RYAN GORMAN

Activists protesting the grand jury decision to not indict an NYPD officer for the death of Eric Garner stormed a major bridge and snarled traffic during Monday's morning rush.

The protesters walked into traffic at the Staten Island base of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the city's largest, and stopped traffic for seven minutes -- the same amount of time Eric Garner was shown in footage on the ground gasping for air.

Pictures from the scene show dozens of protesters bringing traffic to a halt while standing side-by-side across all lanes of Brooklyn-bound traffic and holding banners with "Eric Garner," "Mike Brown" and "Black Lives Matter."

A Tumblr post from organizers claimed police "let Eric Garner lay there and die after he cried out 11 times that he couldn't breathe. Now I'm in the street demanding justice, and I can't leave."

The seven minutes is also a continuation of a strategy recently adopted by protesters that has seen them peacefully demonstrate in a prominent location for a short period of time before moving on to avoid being arrested.

Police have largely allowed them to continue in this manner across the city.

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"The blockage also symbolizes their demand for police accountability both in Staten Island and across New York, by preventing police officers who live on the island from being able to drive into the city," organizers wrote.

The bridge connects Staten Island, known for having cops as a high percentage of its population, with Brooklyn but is also a major route for Staten Islanders wishing to drive into Manhattan and Queens.

"If Staten Island is going to allow their cops to get away with murdering our people, then we refuse to allow all the officers who live in Staten to come terrorize the rest of our communities across the city," Aidge Patterson, a protest participant and organizer with Peoples' Justice and Cop Watch, said in the Tumblr post.

Garner, also from Staten Island, died after a tactical maneuver many have claimed is a choke hold was applied as he resisted arrest while saying "this stops here."

It took several officers to subdue the large man, after which he lay on the ground, on his side, repeatedly saying "I can't breathe."

Both remarks have become rallying cries for protesters and are being used on Twitter as hashtags (#ICantBreathe and #ThisEndsHere) for protest organizers and sympathizers.

A Staten Island grand jury announced last week that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be charged in Garner's death.

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