Thousands of people protested across the United States following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the July chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man Pantaleo was attempting to arrest on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes. “History,” said a woman who grew up on Staten Island, “was not going to be made on Staten Island today.” Demonstrators lay down in the main hall of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, blocked traffic on the West Side Highway, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Holland Tunnel, and surrounded barricades outside the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza. “The air is just alive,” said the woman who donated the spruce, as riot police stood guard, “and I look at my magical tree.” Protesters threw rocks at police in Seattle and Oakland; blocked interstate access to Art Basel in Miami Beach; chanted “I can’t breathe,” Garner’s last words, in Harlem; displayed about a dozen black coffins and staged a seven-minute die-in in Brooklyn; and marched in Washington, D.C., while “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” played from a Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony on the White House lawn. Brooklyn’s district attorney convened a grand jury over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American man in a public-housing stairwell in November; the family of Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old African-American boy killed by a police officer while holding a pellet gun in a Cleveland, Ohio, park, announced that they would file suit against the officer, who shot Rice within two seconds of spotting him; and an unarmed man in Phoenix, Arizona, was killed by a police officer who mistook the man’s pill bottle for a gun. Idaho’s State Appellate Public Defender’s Office requested that the sexual-assault conviction of a black man be overturned because at the man’s trial the prosecutor quoted the opening lines to the Confederate war song “Dixie.” “When you’re sitting in the courtroom and there’s one black guy sitting next to you and the prosecutor’s singing ‘Dixie,'” said the man’s attorney, “It just seemed a little weird.”
A judge in Giza, Egypt, handed down death sentences to 188 Muslim Brotherhood supporters convicted of killing 11 Egyptian police officers during an attack on their station last year, and a court freed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak after dropping charges that he had ordered police to kill more than 800 protesters in 2011. Egyptian police fired tear gas and birdshot at 1,000 demonstrators who gathered in Tahrir Square to protest the decision, 11 students were detained for setting fire to Zagazig University buildings, and hundreds of protesters at Cairo University chanted demands for the “fall of the regime,” as they had in 2011. One of the 43 Mexican students missing since Guerrero police allegedly turned them over to a local cartel in September was identified from charred remains stored in trash bags next to a garbage dump. Protesters angry about the students’ abduction set fire to cars and smashed windows in Guerrero, and in Tijuana burned an effigy of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. After thousands of pro-democracy protesters wielding umbrellas, goggles, masks, food, and helmets in Hong Kong blocked a main city road and surrounded and shut down a government headquarters in the city’s Admiralty district, police sprayed them with water hoses, fired tear gas at them, and beat them with batons. Three founders of the protest movement surrendered to police and recommended the student protesters decamp. “We urge the occupation to end soon, and more citizens will carry out the basic responsibility of civil disobedience,” said one leader as he was discharged from the police station, “which is to surrender.” It was reported that a 2011 North Korean directive had ordered all North Koreans named Kim Jong-un, excepting the country’s leader, to change their names. Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe accused his vice president of asking a witch doctor to cast a spell on him. President Obama was diagnosed with acid reflux.
New York police officers arrested 14 people for their connection to a credit card theft scheme involving the Domino’s pizza-ordering app. “Free Domino’s,” said Deputy Inspector Joseph Gulotta, “was the bottom line.” A man in Florida was arrested for shoplifting a beef tongue he hid in his pants, and UNAFRI, Belgium’s National Association of Fritkot Owners, lobbied to have Belgian french fries labeled a UNESCO cultural heritage item. France agreed to pay $60 million to settle a dispute with Holocaust survivors deported via the country’s railway service, and the city of Marseille issued homeless residents yellow triangular ID badges. A chlorine gas leak at a suburban Chicago hotel forced the evacuation of thousands of attendees of the Midwest FurFest, a convention for people who dress in anthropomorphic animal costumes, to a nearby dog show. “It was,” said a man dressed as a red panda, “shocking.” The world’s oldest two-faced cat died in Worcester, Massachusetts. A woman in Hamilton, Canada, was sentenced to probation and therapy for keeping the corpse of her husband, who died of a foot infection, in his bed for six months. “Just as Jesus raised Lazarus after the fourth day, so too did she believe God would resurrect her husband,” said the woman’s lawyer. “Counseling is certainly going to be beneficial.”
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