They were royally pissed.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Barclays Center on Monday night for a fifth straight night of protests following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Gowanus native Eric Garner by choking him and holding him facedown on Staten Island — only this demonstration coincided with a visit by Prince William and Kate Middleton. One protester said the marches are still going because the system has failed black people.
“I’m out here to demand justice,” said Derrick West, of Park Slope, as the crowd marched down Atlantic Avenue toward Smith Street. “We are tired of speaking and having no one listen.”
The crowd of protesters didn’t dramatically disrupt the Nets game against Lebron “King” James’s Cleveland Cavaliers, but James and several Nets players, including Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams, brought the activists’ message to the court, warming up in black shirts that read, “I can’t breathe,” the phrase Garner wheezed repeatedly as Pantaleo took him down. Brooklyn royalty Jay Z and Beyonce were also in attendance, and King Hov took time out to pose with the politicized Nets players ahead of the game.
Outside, more than 500 activists assembled, many galvanized by the Twitter topic “#royalshutdown” and seeking to capitalize on the media attention being paid to the English royals’ visit. The crowd staged a silent “die-in” in the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, then moved across the street to Atlantic Terminal mall, where protesters roved from store to store, disrupting shoppers, according to reports.
Police arrested three people outside the arena that evening, one for assault, according to a police spokeswoman.
Just before 10:30 pm, the 150 remaining protesters set off down Atlantic Avenue. Some cars stuck in traffic honked in support, and at one point the protesters paused for a moment outside the House of Detention to relay their solidarity to the prisoners inside, chanting, “We’re here for you!”
The march wound its way through Downtown and Brooklyn Heights then, with its ranks numbering about 100, attempted to cross the Manhattan Bridge on the Brooklyn-bound roadway. Police barred the path and, after a standoff, the protesters turned around and left the borough the legal way, on the pedestrian walkway, chanting “I can’t breathe” as they went.