Broadway stars, directors, producers, musicians, choreographers, designers and technicians from some of the most prominent productions gathered in front of the police station in Times Square on Tuesday. They wanted to send a message about police violence and the killing of Eric Garner.
In the YouTube video 100 people wearing black T-shirts harmonized in a solemn hum while poet Daniel J. Watts recited a fiery poem entitled I Can’t Breathe — a reference to Garner’s fateful encounter with police.
On July 17th, Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man was confronted by police for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. The police tried to handcuff Garner but when he refused they placed him in a chokehold. The incident was captured by an onlooker’s cell phone camera. The father of six can be heard telling police repeatedly that he could not breathe. However, the police officers ignored his plea. Garner died on the scene.
The incident has sparked national outrage. The NYPD has taken disciplinary actions against the two officers involved and four EMS workers have been suspended without pay for not providing medical aid to Garner at the scene.
Broadway’s protest was organized by Brandon Victor Dixon, who most recently played lead in Motown The Musical and his WalkRunFly Productions business partner Warren Adams who is a choreographer.
“There are days when I sometimes question this thing we do call ART. However, yesterday once again reminded me why I do this. This community is about more than just entertainment. We have to shine a light on these issues otherwise we will continue to see and hear about the Fruitvale Station’s, Amadou Diallo’s and the Eric Garner’s of the world” Adams says
The participants came from a number of Broadway’s top productions including Lion King, Kinky Boots, Rocky, Rent, Jersey Boys, Book of Mormon and Newsies.