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NYC protesters take over FDR Drive, block access over to major city roadways

Protesters walk on the FDR Drive in Manhattan

Protesters walk on the FDR Drive in Manhattan on Nov. 25, 2014, in response to the grand jury decision in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Crowds incensed over a grand jury decision not to indict in Ferguson's fatal police shooting rose up across Manhattan Tuesday night, with thousands fanning down from Times Square to Union Square and blocking major arteries, from the Lincoln Tunnel to the FDR Drive.

In largely peaceful but tense protests under the eye of the NYPD, people chanted, "Black lives matter" and, "Hands up, don't shoot," one day after a Missouri grand jury declined to charge white Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man. Stuck motorists seemed to honk in support.

"I can't just sit by and watch people take authority and abuse it," said Shavina Que, 28, a Forest Hills sales analyst who said she thought of her future children as she navigated down Seventh Avenue in lower Manhattan. "If nothing changes in the system, we're going to repeat the same walk."

In contrast to Ferguson, where buildings were set ablaze and gunfire erupted, there were few scuffles and the NYPD said only two arrests were made as of about 9 p.m., one at Times Square and the other at FDR Drive, which was shut down in some parts in both directions in lower Manhattan.

Officers walked alongside protesters and others blocked marchers' access to roadways with motorcycles or cruisers.

Later, several hundred protesters gathered in front of the United Nations and raised their hands in a moment of silence. Others crossed into Brooklyn.

"It's where the tears can't fall no more," said Terrance Coffie, 45, a computer lab manager from Harlem, referring to how heartsick people felt.

Protesters said they were also buoyed by the racial diversity among the marchers.

"It shows solidarity," said Stephanie Eugene, 21, of Crown Heights, "and even during these dark times there is a silver lining because we're coming together."

About a dozen City Council members made clear their disappointment with the lack of an indictment of Wilson by staging a walkout at City Hall during a full council meeting.

Earlier, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said the police department was giving protesters "breathing room" to express outrage.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to distance the recent fatal encounters between the NYPD and unarmed black men from the Ferguson shooting.

"Obviously, it's been a very tortured path in Ferguson," de Blasio said earlier. "We approach policing and the relationship between police and community very differently.

"Each and every incident is different," he said.

With Matthew Chayes, Maria Alvarez, Dan Rivoli and Ivan Pereira

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