Protesters in New Orleans showed they didn't agree with a decision in New York, clearing a white police officer in the videotaped chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
They began at Lee Circle and, according to Nola.com | Times Picayune, protesters walked between cars yelling "hands up don't shoot" and interrupted the lights show at Gallier Hall. The protesters told FOX 8 they were bringing attention to the recent examples of what they called a lack of justice and a perpetuation of racial issues.
"People are tired. Today, a decision was reached to not indict a cop who on camera killed an innocent man, and this is the third decision we've got in a seven-day span that has shown us that no matter what we do, even if it is captured on camera, nothing will be done," said activist Kadesha Minor.
The protest was taking shape while NOPD Chief Michael Harrison was one of a few panelists leading a planned community discussion on the interactions between black males and police officers. The discussion at SUNO was scheduled in response to the Ferguson case where a police officer shot an unarmed teenager.
Before the discussion began, Harrison responded to the decision in New York City.
"I did see that video, I saw uniform officers there, and whether there was adequate supervision, what policies were in place and maybe violated, which would have lead me to maybe a different decision maybe not a different decision, but there are a lot of questions I would ask," Harrison said.
During the panel, SUNO Criminologist John Penny said, "Justice un-served is a disservice to everyone."
Criminologists boiled down the statistics as students shared their own experiences. Harrison said NOPD is in better shape with federal partners and local monitors, but community relations will remain a top priority. He recognized the difficulty of having conversations about race relations from his unique position as both NOPD chief and the father of a 21-year-old black man, who now lives in Indiana.
"It's always tough to have that conversation, and I've had that conversation with my own son. And it's always hard to have that conversation, but it's something that we cannot be scared to do, and we can't run from it. We have to do it head-on," Harrison said.
"I don't want my son to grow up being afraid of the police," discussion attendee and New Orleans East resident Don Graham. "At the same time, I think we need to do a better job of policing in our community. So, that's my reason for being here today."
During the panel discussion, Harrison said the policy in New Orleans is to be "hard on problems, soft on people." He also said being as transparent as possible is the best course of action for a police department, and noted the body cameras police officers wear now in New Orleans.