More than 25,000 people marched through Manhattan on Saturday, police officials said, in the largest protest in the city since a grand jury declined this month to indict an officer in the death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island.
Just before 2 p.m. they began spilling out of Washington Square Park, and after an hour and a half, the park still had not emptied. Walking north toward 34th Street, the protesters filled the cold air by chanting “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man, who died from a chokehold after an officer dragged him to the ground on a hot day in July.
The group, which at times stretched for more than 20 blocks, highlighted growing anger nationwide over recent police deaths, including that of Mr. Garner, 43, who officers had accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
The march was led by the families of a number of unarmed black men who died at the hands of police officers, including Ramarley Graham and Sean Bell, who were both killed in New York City. But protesters insisted that the movement was as much about those deaths as it was about the daily indignity of being confronted by the police for, they said, little to no reason.
Denise Mayer, 64, of Montclair, N.J., said she had marched in protests over the Vietnam War, but that this movement was different.
“This is more of an everyday frustration that the violence seems to be escalating,” she said, holding a poster of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s beyond frustration. As an individual, what do I do?”
The protesters moved through the streets, pushing children in strollers, waving black liberation flags and carrying signs. A line of people carried posters that arranged together depicted photos of Mr. Garner’s eyes.
They chanted his last words and “hands up, don’t shoot,” the rallying cry in Ferguson, Mo., over the police shooting death in August of another unarmed black man, Michael Brown, 18. At several points, the crowd extended for over a mile and a half.
“A young black man in America shouldn’t be scared to interact with the police or talk with the police,” another protester, Jelanie Deshong, 22, said.
As dusk descended and the march moved south toward New York Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan, a group of around 100 protesters, many of whom wore scarfs and bandannas over their faces, slipped away from the crowd on 32nd Street. They hurled traffic cones and trash cans at police cars, and beat their fists against the cars’ windows. “Whose streets? Our streets!” they shouted.
As the police tried to pen them in, the group rejoined the crowd of marchers on Broadway.
But it was a largely peaceful crowd, representing a cross-section of races and faith groups.
The protesters described mounting frustration with the pace of change, and their desire to raise their voices with those across the country.
Nathaniel Magloire, 18, of Queens, said, “Everybody deserves justice, and I’m sick of sitting around and being passive.”
The march stopped in front of Police Headquarters, with protesters screaming at the assembled officers and beating on drums.
Several relatives of those who had been killed by police officers addressed the crowd. Among them was Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed in the bathroom of his Bronx apartment in 2012.
“We must get justice for our loved ones,” she said.
By the early evening, the police said they had not made any arrests along the march route.
Some protesters who broke away from the crowd gathered around Police Headquarters in an effort to stop traffic along the Brooklyn Bridge, but they were countered by hundreds of police officers who tried to divert them.
In a call-and-response with the demonstrators, an organizer with a megaphone shouted, “Are we done yet? No! Shut this city down.”
Dan Glaun, Colin Moynihan and Ashley Southall contributed reporting.
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