If there’s one place Ferguson protesters were not welcome this week, it was at New York City’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade.
The NYPD has been relatively lenient this week toward protesters who blocked major roadways in Manhattan following the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown last August. But officers didn’t think twice about arresting seven people who reportedly knocked down metal barricades set up a half-block away from the parade in an alleged attempt to make a statement at the festivities, reports the New York Post.
As chaos erupted on the street, a window on the 10th floor of a building nearby was reportedly smashed and broken glass fell onto the streets below. It's unclear who smashed the window or the reason behind it.
“My kids were scared because the glass was coming down,” said Elizabeth Matos of Boston. “The kids were crying. It’s horrible. We just came to see the parade. I drove three hours.”
The day before the parade, Twitter users organized protests using the hashtag #stoptheparade. Those who opposed the parade argued that it was disrespectful to keep the tradition alive so soon after Brown was killed during what they called a “racist” attack.
In Union Square the night before Thanksgiving, a protest organizer named Magiq reportedly assured followers that they would be safe the following day.
“The police aren’t going to arrest us, and they are not going to shoot us,” he said.
But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton made it clear that officers had been instructed to stop protesters before they could get anywhere near the parade.
“We will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any effort to disrupt this parade,” Bratton said. “This is a national event, a historic event. Anybody who would seek to interrupt it would be callous, indeed, on this special day.”
Many protesters claim their intention was to peacefully march and that police began pushing and shoving them without good reason.
“The goal of today was to stop the parade and send a message,” said teacher Khaleed Alston. “The Ferguson verdict shows a complete lack of respect for black youths. Four officers picked up the metal barrier and started pushing us back, and that’s when the chaos started.”
Six of the protesters were reportedly issued desk-appearance tickets and the seventh person was issued a violation.