Dozens of protesters gathered in Jackson Heights on Friday evening to protest Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police on Staten Island and to draw attention to the plight of undocumented immigrants who also fear police abuse.
“And even if we get a [citizenship], will anything change for us?” Fahd Ahmed, the group’s leader, asked more than 50 protesters at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights. “No, it won’t, and we can see why when the cops are even killing citizens.”
The protesters, led by the South Asian Organizing Center DRUM, marched in the rain from the Jewish center to the 115th Precinct, using the same chants and tactics to block traffic that have been used in protests taking place across the city since a grand jury cleared a police officer in Garner’s death last week.
No arrests were made, according to police, and the activities ended at 9:30 p.m.
For the Queens protesters, the recent spate of killings by cops reflected their own plight.
“Conversations won’t be enough. We have to take action,” Ahmed said. “ We face being targeted in our country of origin and then we come here and we’re targeted, too.”
As the protesters marched in the middle of Northern Boulevard, they recited callback chants like, “Whose streets? Our streets.” In between shouts, drivers honked their car horns, some in support and others out of frustration that they were blocking traffic.
Cops looked bewildered as they exited the station house to a group of people yelling “killer cops,” along with other chants. The group, now thoroughly soaked by rain, held a moment of silence for the death of Eric Garner, who was killed during an arrest by cops in Staten Island.
“Most of our folks are undocumented and so they’re scared to take to the streets,” Ahmed said. “But we have to fight because if American citizens are getting killed imagine what the authorities are doing to these undocumented people who have even less rights.”
The protest ended on 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue after the protesters formed a circle on the intersection.
“More people need to be mad,” said Ame Hayashi, one of the protesters.