Black Lives Matter Protesters March Through DC

Protesters aiming to highlight alleged cases of police misconduct demonstrated and blocked traffic in D.C. on New Year's Eve.

Hundreds of protesters chanting "black lives matter" and "stand up, fight back" gathered at 7 p.m. near the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station, at 7th and H streets NW. Demonstrators marched to 14th and U streets NW. 

Participants said speaking out against police violence mattered more than celebrating 2016.

"The death of any human is more important than turning up or going to a party or anything," one young man said. 

"This is more important than partying," another woman said. "This is something that people need, to make sacrifices to make sure the changes are made." 

Police advised drivers to expect rolling road closures, and moved quickly to block roads as protesters marched, so there wasn't much of a traffic impact.

Stop Police Terror Project DC called on residents to participate in the march. 

"We need everyone (yes everyone) to converge on 7th and H Streets NW at 7PM. We WILL NOT go in to a new year without demanding immediate justice in both cases!" the group posted on Facebook.

"We can no longer express our rage, disappointment, and fear alone or in silence. On the last day of the year you remain empowered to show your commitment to vigorously fighting for justice in 2016!"

The group is calling attention to two cases: the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer and the death of Sandra Bland in police custody in Texas. In both cases, grand juries recently decided not to indict the police officers involved.

Protesters said they would call for justice on behalf of Tamir and Bland, calling the lack of indictments "unacceptable but not surprising."

The planners said they're also committed to "demanding justice for victims of police brutality in DC, including Alonzo Smith, Jason Goolsby, and Ralphael Briscoe."

Smith died Nov. 1 after being taken into custody by private security guards at a Southeast D.C. apartment complex. His death has been ruled a homicide. Smith's mother, Beverly Smith, says she viewed her son's body at the medical examiner's office. "He had a broken neck, bruises on his chest, a swollen jaw," she said.

Goolsby, 18, was forcibly detained for almost two hours by D.C. police in October after he held an ATM vestibule door open for a white couple and their baby. A cellphone video posted on social media shows him face down on the sidewalk, screaming as two officers try to handcuff him. "I'm not resisting," he says. After he was released, Goolsby asked why he was stopped. The officer said a woman called and said he'd made her feel uncomfortable, Goolsby's attorney said.

In April 2011, Briscoe, 18, was fatally shot by police after they say he brandished a weapon. Police surveillance video showed Briscoe, a former track star, running from an unmarked D.C. police car filled with officers. Lawyers for the police department said the teen was seen carrying a gun, but Briscoe's family lawyer said what police interpreted as a weapon was simply his finger and his cellphone. A jury cleared the officers in his death.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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