People gather on UT campus to pray after Eric Garner decision

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Outrage continues Thursday after the decision not to charge an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner. Video shows Garner was put in a chokehold by officer Daniel Pantaleo in July for selling loose cigarettes, then resisting arrest.

Garner died about an hour later. A grand jury decided not to indict the officer even though the medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide.

There was a prayer meeting on the University of Tennessee Thursday night.

People who attended say campus just hasn’t been the same in recent weeks. They’re hoping peaceful gatherings will change that.

About 35 people gathered to sing and pray.

“I think especially with everything going on, campus has been divided. It’s hard, but it’s good to come out here and see people of all different races, ethnicities, backgrounds and religions come together and pray for a single cause. I think that prayer in numbers makes a change,” said UT student Lauriel Cleveland.

“It’s kind of weird walking on campus right now. It’s kind of uneasy, but I think if we have more programs like this we can end that divide,” said UT student Rilwan Balogun.

“There is a lot of grief among students and other people,” said pastor John Tirro.

Tirro organized the meeting after he learned there would be no charges in Garner’s death.

“If you’ve ever been held in a situation where you can’t breathe for a while, it’s a very scary feeling,” Tirro said.

The group says they want justice, peace and healing for our nation.

“Black lives do matter, but at the end of the day all lives matter,” Cleveland said.

Tirro says another gathering is planned for Friday night at 6 p.m. on Market Square. Click here for more details.

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