After a grand jury declined to bring charges against a New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, Police Commissioner William Bratton said he expected the large-scale protests that followed to “peter out.” The Police Department has taken a hands-off approach, monitoring the marchers as they block roadways and bridges but making few arrests. The tactic has brought praise from Mayor Bill de Blasio. The New York Times reports that instead of fading away, the demonstrations have grown, with the largest yet on Saturday drawing more than 25,000 people to the streets of Manhattan. In a worrying sign for the police, they have become more confrontational over the last week.
Now the Police Department is facing an “operational dilemma” in its laissez-faire handling of the demonstrators, a majority of whom are nonviolent, said Stephen Davis, the deputy police commissioner for public information. “How do you allow the larger group to continue while at the same time prevent the instigators from getting what they want?” he said. On Sunday, the police arrested Eric Linsker, 29, an adjunct instructor at the City University of New York, on felony charges in the assault of the two lieutenants during demonstrations on the bridge, which are protesting the police killings of Garner and other unarmed black men in New York and elsewhere.