NEW YORK (AP) — A sea of motionless human bodies was splayed across a Brooklyn pavement Sunday, marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Demonstrators maintained their silence for a few moments before rising and joining others marching from the Barclays Center arena into Manhattan for another rally later in the day. Among the activists were a dozen people carrying a giant cloth banner that read: "Black Lives Matter."
The death of the 18-year-old on Aug. 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, was among the catalysts of a surging national movement calling for change in the relationships between police and minority communities.
Brown's body lay on a Ferguson street for hours while authorities investigated.
"Once (a black American is killed), we automatically rush into this phase where we should be forgiving," said demonstrator Jesika Paxton, 21, a recent Howard University graduate living in New York. "But you can't disenfranchise an entire people, and then expect them not to react."
In the year since the teenager's death, she said, "there's been an awakening. We always knew this was happening; now other people are learning more about it."
The proof came Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, where the hundreds marching toward Manhattan included young and old, blacks and whites, well-to-do and struggling New Yorkers.
Later in Manhattan's Union Square, a huge board propped on an easel showed faces of blacks killed by police bullets since 1994.
Standing by the display was activist Travis Morales, who feels there's been a dramatic shift in the nation's attitude toward such deaths "because the young people stood up in Ferguson immediately after the murder of Michael Brown, facing tear gas, rubber bullets and armored personnel carriers."
As a result, said the 63-year-old New Yorker, "millions of people around the world have had their eyes opened, millions of people have become outraged and many people said, 'This has to stop.'"
And that, he said, includes Americans whose lives have not been directly touched by the violence.
Another trigger for weeks of tense face-offs between New Yorkers and police last year was the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, a black man who died in July of last year after being restrained by a police officer and repeatedly saying, "I can't breathe."
His daughter Erica Garner was in Ferguson, joining Brown's father for a march in commemoration of his son.
"This year's just been so hard," she said, "no accountability, no justice, police are still killing us."