Thousands protest at police killings

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Thousands of protesters have marched across the US to call attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police and urge lawmakers to take action.

Demonstrators went past the White House in Washington DC, along iconic Fifth Avenue in New York and through the middle of Nashville’s honky-tonk district.

Chanting “I can’t breathe!” “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and waving signs reading “Black lives matter!” the demonstrators also staged “die-ins” as they lay down across intersections, and in one city briefly blocked an on ramp to a motorway.

Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, 43, who died in July after being put in a chokehold by a New York City police officer during an arrest for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, said: “My husband was a quiet man, but he’s making a lot of noise right now.”

Speaking from the Washington DC protest, she added: “His voice will be heard. I have five children in this world and we are fighting not just for him but for everybody’s future, for everybody’s past, for everybody’s present, and we need to make it strong.”

Organisers had predicted 5,000 people at the Washington march, but the crowd appeared to far outnumber that. They later said they believed as many as 25,000 had taken part.

Mr Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, called the demonstrations a “history-making moment”.

“It’s just so overwhelming to see all who have come to stand with us today,” she said. “I mean, look at the masses. Black, white, all races, all religions. ... We need to stand like this at all times.”

Joining the Garners in Washington were speakers from the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old killed in Ohio as he played with a pellet gun in a park, and the Rev Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, who helped organise the marches.