New York City police arrest protesters Sunday who took to the streets the… (Alana Semuels / Los Angeles…)
NEW YORK -- It could have been his son: That’s why Troy Reed joined hundreds of protesters in New York City to speak out against what he considered an injustice.
But as they marched from Union Square to Times Square, briefly stopping traffic, and then up the quiet East Side, Reed and some of the others were arrested.
“That could have been my son; I had to march,” Reed yelled as officers cuffed his hands behind his back and guided him into a van with a handful of other protesters. Reed’s 15-year-old son, Chase, and his friend Jordan Alfredi stood nearby, watching.
“We were just trying to march for Trayvon – no justice, no peace. But the police cars kept pulling up, and they just got aggressive,” Chase Reed said.
“They pulled out their sticks,” Alfredi added.
The protest was among several in the U.S. on Sunday, including in Los Angeles, Chicago and Sanford, Fla., where George Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of Martin, 17.
Police used pepper spray on the protesters at Park Avenue and 71st Street, as uniformed doormen and several residents looked on. One woman sat crying on the sidewalk, comforted by some marchers, while others kept the protest going.
“There was one rowdy guy, and he was getting physical,” said Reuben Hayslett, who was among the marchers. “The cops just sprayed and everyone – even them – started coughing.”
It was a lengthy journey for many. The protesters started the day at New York’s Union Square, near 14th Street, and marched to Times Square, where they stopped traffic with their numbers. They marched up the East Side of Manhattan, past quiet streets of Upper Eastsiders returning from their weekends away, and up to 125th street, where homeless men slept in nearly every open spot.
The chant was often the same: “Justice for Trayvon Martin,” a phrase also written on cardboard and carried by the demonstrators.
Their route through Manhattan was haphazard, with protesters often changing course when it seemed that police were trying to block them off. Groups got separated, and some marchers dropped out after tiring in temperatures approaching 90 degrees.
The day was at times tense, with police shoving reporters and pedestrians, and at times comical, as squadrons of officers in pairs wandered the streets in the muggy heat of a New York summer, admitting they didn’t know where the protesters had gone.
The NYPD appeared to be on high alert, with police cars and sirens seemingly everywhere on the Upper East Side. People began to gather on corners, wondering what was going on. At one point, a trail of 10 police cars and vans waited for potential problems at 125th Street, as dozens of officers on foot tried to keep up with the protesters.