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Protestors held a die-in protest inside 30th Street Station before marching to CIty Hall in protest of the Ferguson decision Credit: Connie Kang , Connie Kang

Protesters marched through the city yesterday evening in response to the decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and in Staten Island, N.Y.

The protest started at 4 p.m. with a “Die In” at 30th Street Station — in which protesters laid down for four and a half minutes in reference to the four and half hours teenager Michael Brown laid in the street after being shot. The protest culminated in a march to City Hall where protesters remained for the rest of the evening.

The protests responded to last week’s grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo. not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown. They also resulted from yesterday’s grand jury decision in Staten Island not to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Eric Garner — an unarmed man suspected of illegally selling cigarettes — in a fatal chokehold.

“I can’t breathe,” the protesters chanted, echoing Garner’s last words

The protest ended up clashing with a Christmas tree lighting at City Hall, which was planned for 8 p.m. “No justice, no Christmas!” the crowd chanted as they walked around the Christmas tree.

There were many moments of anger when Christmas music being blasted on loudspeakers interrupted the protesters.

Many yelled, “Shut it down, shut it down,” in response.

There were also moments of tension when performers, both young and old, came on stage. Some protestors continued to yell their slogans, while others then became silent, at least for the younger performers. Others were upset at the performers who were black. One woman yelled for them to join in the protest and said they were “crazy” for being on stage.

“It’s a really difficult situation because we have something celebrating our young people but at the same time it feel so hypocritical to be singing ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ when something so tragic is happening in our nation,” said Dyresha Harris, a 2005 College of Liberal and Professional Studies graduate. She was one of those who chose to be silent when kids were performing on stage.

“People here are trying to keep it in the news because that’s the only way that people will continue to put effort into making something better,” she added.

Members of Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation organized a group of Penn students to join in. SOUL declined to comment for this article, as did other Penn students at the protest.

University Chaplain Charles Howard was also at the protest, though not in any official capacity. He said he has attended several protests since the Ferguson decision.

“I’m really proud of our students — the way they organized and the way they’re pulling together and speaking out for justice,” he said.

Aside from the tension, many at the protest were glad to see how many people came out.

Travis McKinley, a protester who just moved to Philadelphia, joined the protest when the march passed his house. “I think it’s the first time that people have come together like this in a long time. The judicial system, it’s there to be objective and it hasn’t been,” McKinley said. “I think the main point is to come together and show that we can make a difference.”

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