A third candlelight vigil held last night (March 13) for slain Brooklyn teenager Kimani Gray began peacefully, but an angry group of protesters taunting police sparked a number of arrests. Tensions flared just blocks from where NYPD detectives gunned down the 16-year-old Gray, with demonstrators boldly confronting the cops who then pepper sprayed and arrested members of the crowd.
DNAINfo.com reports that the vigil for Gray, who was killed last Saturday (March 9), started quietly but became unraveled after the gatherers yelled at cops with shouts of “Don’t Shoot Me!” and aggressively challenged authorities. Around 100 demonstrators marched in East Flatbush towards the 67th Precinct with a chant of “F—k the police” while walking down Church Avenue.
According to reports from the New York Times and the New York Post, one officer was struck in the face with a brick and a police car’s rear window was smashed. Gray’s family was scheduled to speak during the vigil along with other community leaders, but after police lost order of the crowd, the boy’s parents elected to leave the event. Among the protesters was Frank Graham, father of Bronx teen Ramarley Graham who was shot by NYPD inside his home last summer.
“Why is it only black kids being killed? They don’t do this on 86th Street,” Graham said. “When will it stop? How long are they going to kill kids?”
An organizer from the People’s Justice Coalition’s Cop Watch program said that cops were overzealous in their arrests, locking up persons who were working with his group to monitor police activity. Gothamist also reports that a handful of persons who were returning home and not joined in the protests were also locked up.
Similar to the riot that took place on Monday (March 11), last night’s dustup was more intense as a reported 45 to 50 people were arrested. The Gray family does not support the protestors’ actions, according to City Councilman Jumaane Williams. “The family does not condone what happened [Monday night],” Williams said. “It’s destructive.”
Check out the gallery of the protest on the following pages.
Photos: Michael Nagle/Robert Mecea/John Knefel/AP