By Post Staff and news reports
Protests have erupted in cities across the country following a grand jury decision clearing a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Eric Garner, a Black man who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
Many people are astounded and angry at the failure to indict despite the facts of the case: Garner was unarmed; police chokeholds are banned in New York; the coroner had ruled that Garner’s death was a homicide; and the killing was captured on video.
“More heart-wrenching news…there will be no indictment in the murder of Eric Garner. Our system is broken. The Department of Justice should act immediately to investigate this tragedy and ensure justice is done,” wrote Congresswoman Barbara Lee on her Facebook page.
Promising action, President Obama said, “I’m absolutely committed as president of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everyone believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law.”
The reaction to this week’s grand jury decision builds on the protests that are still continuing over a Missouri grand jury’s failure to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Many New Yorkers have been watching closely to see if Officer Daniel Pantaleo would be charged for killing Garner on July 17.
“I am actually astonished based on the evidence of the video tape, and the medical examiner, that this grand jury at this time wouldn’t indict for anything, is really just astonishing,” said Jonathan Moore, an attorney for Garner’s family.
The grand jury could have considered a range of charges, from murder to a lesser offense such as reckless endangerment.
Protesters around the country have been chanting, “I can’t breathe,” evoking Garner’s last words – repeated 11 times before he died and caught on the videotape of the incident.
Peaceful protests sprang up on Wednesday throughout Manhattan, including at Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and near Rockefeller Center. Protesters also took over the Brooklyn Bridge. Police reported 83 arrests.
Peaceful protesters in downtown Oakland voiced their outrage.
“The only difference is their names,” Karissa Lewis, 32, of Oakland said of the Garner and Brown grand jury outcomes, speaking to the Huffington Post. “The system won’t work for Black folk.”
In San Francisco, protesters staged a “die-in” at Powell and Market streets near the cable car turnaround, chanting “Black lives matter!”
“I came down here because I’m disgusted about what happened,” said Edward Collins, a 19-year-old student, speaking to the SF Chronicle. “It’s beyond a race thing to me. No matter what race you are, no one has the right to murder you.”
In Palo Alto, about 150 protesters blocked both directions of Highway 101 off University Avenue.
“We can no longer not be heard and not be seen,” said Jessica Salinas, speaking to ABC-7 News. “Business cannot go on as usual. This is something that cannot be seen and be heard…and everyone needs to know so that everyone can have an impact on it.”