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Police Arrest 76 at Eric Garner Solidarity 'Die-In' Protest in London Shopping Center

Several hundred people shouted "We can't breathe" and lay on the ground at the Westfield mall, as protests over the death of the 43-year-old New Yorker at police hands spread across the Atlantic.

by Sally Hayden
Dec 11 2014, 12:17pm

Image via Getty/Anadolu Agency

Police arrested 76 people in a west London shopping center on Wednesday night at a "die-in" protest held to show solidarity with rallies in the US over the death of Eric Garner.

Around 600 protesters gathered at the Westfield center in Shepherd's Bush, chanting "no justice, no peace," and echoing Garner's last words in shouts of: "We can't breathe."

The demonstrators arrived at Westfield at around 6pm GMT. Half an hour later an air horn sounded: the cue for demonstrators to begin chanting, and then to lie on the ground both inside and outside the shopping center. 

Eric Garner protests: Excerpts from VICE News live coverage. Watch more here.

According to the event's Facebook page, the protest was organized by the London Black Revs activist group, the National Union of Students (NUS) black students' campaign, the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence and Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts. It was held "in solidarity with the murder of Eric Garner by New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo and the many more who have been killed across the US by the Police Force and KKK in the past months and years."

The event description went on to say: "This action will make the presence of black death felt by those watching, policing and monitoring our actions, as we all shout, in unity, #blacklivesmatter."

London's Metropolitan Police claimed that police officers who were present were assaulted.

In a statement, they said: "76 people were subsequently arrested on suspicion of public order offences; one man was further arrested on suspicion of assault.

"They have been taken to various London police stations for questioning."

Corene Hippolyte-Newman, a woman who was shopping in Westfield at the time, told VICE News that she didn't witness any arrests. 

"The atmosphere was very surreal but still calm enough to shop until the crowd grew. I could see the security team of Westfield were getting agitated. More and more people stopped to watch and film it on their phones. The chanting continued for at least about 40 mins."

LA Cops Shoot Man Holding Pocketknife at Site of Eric Garner and Michael Brown Protests. Read more here.

The protest organizers said that less than 20 of those arrested had been released by about 10am on Thursday morning.

43-year-old Garner died in Staten Island in July this year, while being arrested on suspicion of selling cigarettes. The death was ruled to be "homocide by chokehold," but Daniel Pantaleo — the NYPD officer who was filmed putting his arm around Garner's neck — was not indicted. 

No grand jury indictment for NYPD cop involved in Eric Garner choking death. Read more here.

Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd

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