Last week’s 24-hour Grand Central die-in protests included two arrests, Reverend Billy Talen and Marc Train, for allegedly assaulting MTA officers.
As a result, the MTA decided to enforce its ban on die-ins, demonstrations where protesters lie down as if dead, but that didn’t go over well with activist Jose LaSalle who organized a demonstration in the terminal protesting the ban Monday evening.
“We’re here today, because last week, the MTA police decided to arrest, to falsely arrest, one of our comrades and also put their hands on the names of all the people that [were] murdered by police!” chanted LaSalle, referencing how officers confiscated placards with police victims on them at last week’s event.
Watch Jose LaSalle speak at the demonstration here:
LaSalle also took the time to single out the officer he claims arrested Talen, Sargent Montgomery (pictured in third image from top). “He used a maneuver which is illegal in their patrol guide to subdue Reverend Billy,” he added, motionioning to Montgomery who stood nearby with his fellow officers.
“He put his arm around him when he [Talen] was bending down and put his body on top of him, compressing him down so they could subdue him and cuff him up.”
“Every night, we’ve experienced some sort of violence, whether its been verbal or physical,” said Elsa (pictured center in fourth image from top below), one of the main organizers of the daily die-ins at Grand Central since December. “It comes from passerby. Unfortunately, the NYPD has seen this, and on multiple occasions, [they] have let our assailants walk while they crowd us, while they detain us.”
After a short march around the space, the demonstrators stopped before the line of MTA officers and turned their backs while chanting, “We can turn our backs too!” The action directly referenced what some officers have done against Mayor Bill de Blasio in recent weeks.
LaSalle later used that observation to issue an interesting edict, “When something happens to them, we’re going to turn our backs,” he suggested. “Just like they have turned their backs on us. And that’s what gonna take place from now on.”
Watch protesters turn their backs on the police here:
After the face-to-face confrontation, the group spread their message to the terminal’s inner confines. Eventually, they directly challenged the MTA’s new enforcement, holding two mini die-ins for 7 and a 1/2 minutes each — the exact length of time Eric Garner went without medical assistance after an officer choked him.
The officers stood back and watched each time, making no arrests during the three-hour demonstration.
See more pictures from the demonstration below: