New Canaan High School Students Protest Grand Jury Decision in Eric Garner’s Death [VIDEO]

Saying their goal was to spread awareness in the New Canaan community and beyond that young people demand equal treatment at the hands of police and justice in the legal system, regardless of race, some 200 high school students staged a protest on the campus grounds Thursday afternoon, and about 60 of those went on to rally in front of the police station. Organized by senior Charles Sosnick (see video above) in the wake of Wednesday’s grand jury decision not to indict the white police officer on Staten Island whose chokehold led to the death of a 43-year-old Eric Garner in July, the protest featured impromptu speeches by Sosnick followed by demonstrations and chants such as “I can’t breathe”—a reference to Garner’s dying words on the sidewalk—“The cops are not above the law,” “All lives matter,” and “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”

“We are not protesting the New Canaan Police Department or any of its officers,” Sosnick told those gathered in front of the department, passing cars occasionally honking as they did as the protesters marched down South Avenue from the high school.

School Officials Advise NCHS Students of Less Disruptive Ways To Protest Staten Island Grand Jury Decision

Administrators at New Canaan High School, catching wind Thursday morning that some students had planned to walk out of classes at 1:30 p.m. in a protest of the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer whose chokehold in July led to the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, addressed the effort’s organizer and advised that “there are ways to protest and some may be more appropriate than others,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said. Asked what the administrators said to NCHS Senior Charles Sosnick, Luizzi said, “They advised that there may be other ways than walking out of class at 1:30 that may not be disruptive to the school day for themselves and their peers, so they [the students] are considering that.”

“They are students and they want to have their opinions heard about what is going on in Staten Island, so we just tried to advise them around different ways they can do that,” Luizzi said. He confirmed that the original plan had been to gather at the flagpole out front of the school. A grand jury on Wednesday decided not to indict on criminal charges the white police officer whose chokehold in July on Garner, an unarmed black man, led to that man’s death. The officer, 29-year-old Daniel Pantaleo, told the grand jury that he wanted to take down Garner, 43, not choke him.