Photo by William Alatriste

NEW YORK, NY – Members of the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council are extremely disheartened by the outcome in the case of Eric Garner. The grand jury decision to not indict the officer responsible for his death is a sad and disappointing one. Members feel that a major injustice has been committed and that the challenges regarding police and community relations is one in dire need of solutions. Council Members agree that the result in the case of Eric Garner’s death is another racial injustice stemming from systemic problems including institutionalized discrimination, hostile relations with public safety agents and failed police accountability.


“The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aptly stated, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’,” said Co-Chair to Progressive Caucus, Council Member Donovan Richards. “Little did Dr. King know that the threat of injustice against men of color remains a pervasive threat fifty-one years after he penned those words. It is with a heavy heart and sincere disappointment that I acknowledge once more that our judicial system has failed to administer justice on behalf of those most vulnerable. It is imperative now for the communities of color and our allies to collectively voice our concerns on excessive policing and work diligently to enact systemic change.”

“This verdict is a disgrace. It sends a message to New Yorkers that the NYPD is above the law. It is yet another example of the failure of our justice system to serve everyone equally,” said Co-Chair Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“I could not have been more shocked, angered and saddened than to hear today’s news. We held out hope, and hope was denied. I offer my heartfelt sympathy to Eric Garner’s family and the grief that this news must be bringing to them. Our criminal legal system will not hold responsible those involved in the death of a man, but we continue to demand justice,” said Council Member Debi Rose, representing Staten Island. “We call on the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, loudly, clearly and peacefully, to pursue justice where justice was denied. We will get to the other side, peacefully.”

“Like so many others across our city, I’m beyond outraged to learn that the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner has not been indicted,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson? It’s shameful to allow NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo a free pass rather than force him to stand trial for his actions. It’s a miscarriage of justice for the family of Eric Garner. It’s a disheartening blow to every New Yorker of color who knows that, for them, true equality has sadly not yet come. Today I stand in solidarity with the family of Eric Garner. And alongside them, I call on all New Yorkers outraged by this decision to express their feelings peacefully. We must remember that violence is not the answer to today’s shameful decision. Instead, we must continue to demonstrate and raise our voices in the name of justice, equality and fairness. It’s what our city deserves.”

“I guess I should not be stunned. But I am stunned and angry. With video of a prohibited chokehold, and the coroner ruling it a homicide, this is simply not justice. We must stand united together — peacefully but with honest anger — to demand steps toward justice,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

“I am absolutely disappointed, appalled, and ashamed by the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Once again, it has been demonstrated that the threshold for indictment when it comes to black lives at the hands of police has been elevated to an unattainable standard,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “It appears in this case, as in the most recent case of Michael Brown, that the process has failed us. And for that reason, I assure you that the process is not over and I will continue to stand with those who remain to fight for the justice that is deserved by the mother, father, wife, and children of Eric Garner. Once again, I am forced to quote W.E.B. DuBois: ‘A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect’. For this reason we, as legislators, will continue to take a serious look at policing policy and measures of accountability, as indicated by a series of recent City Council bills.”

“I am deeply disappointed and saddened by today’s grand jury decision, and I stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Eric Garner. Today’s decision sends a clear message to communities of color across our city that the police are above the law. I hope this occasion compels an open an honest dialogue about what can be done to curb police misconduct, to end the culture of impunity that pervades the NYPD, and to restore trust between law enforcement and communities of color,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“As shocking and inexplicable as the Ferguson grand jury decision was, Staten Island’s is even worse because there was actually video. We are never going to be able to rebuild trust between police and communities unless we can hold accountable those few police officers that abuse their authority and use excessive force. Today’s announcement is a painful setback toward reaching that goal. We must enact tougher laws that give grand juries the tools to indict,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“It is a difficult holiday season for any American who holds steadfast to the principles of our nation’s founding–to ‘establish justice and insure domestic tranquility.’ In two devastating decisions back to back, first in Ferguson and now in the Eric Garner case, the victims’ families, our cities, and our nation in mourning deserved the opportunity to find the facts surrounding these tragic deaths. Martin Luther King said, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Now that injustice hits so close to home, we in the New York City Council stand with our fellow New Yorkers and our brothers and sisters in Ferguson as two cities facing similar pain, injustice and loss,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“The non-indictment decision on the Eric Garner case is tragic miscarriage of justice, particularly in the face of strikingly similar events across the country. In the spirit of Eric Garner, and all of the young men of color who share his heartbreaking fate, we must charge forward demanding justice at every stop, for every person,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.  Harsh and disproportionate policing in our communities cannot continue to derail justice, and reproduce broken relations. It defies logic that in a case with an incredible amount of evidence—including shocking video footage of Eric Garner’s death—the legal threshold for an indictment was not met. My heart continues to be with the family and loved ones of Eric Garner.”

“There is something to be said about the ethics of our justice system when a man dies at the hands of a police officer and there isn’t, at the bare minimum, a fair trial; it is disappointing and unacceptable. For Eric Garner and all the men of color I represent, Commissioner Bratton must work hard to make amends and improve the training of the NYPD,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

“My thoughts are with the family of Eric Garner following today’s grand jury decision,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “For all of us seeking justice for Eric and his family, today’s decision is deeply disappointing, to say the least. There is much work to be done until our society is truly equal for all men and women.”

“It is so deeply disturbing: four police officers subdued Eric Garner—an unarmed civilian—and one applies a chokehold which leads to his death. And the grand jury does not feel these facts – preserved on a video we’ve all seen – call for a jury trial. A trial is not a conviction. A trial can provide a more public and thorough discussion of what happened and why. A trial is something Eric Garner, his family, and New Yorkers deserve,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.  “It is a loss to people of all backgrounds and in all neighborhoods that Eric Garner’s death will not be investigated as part of the American jury trial system.”

“I am deeply disturbed that there will be no indictment in the Eric Garner case,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “Police officers must be held accountable when using lethal force. A father of six children is dead and justice has been denied to a family. My thoughts and prayers go to the Garner family at this difficult time.”

“As a person who cares about justice my heart aches today. I am profoundly saddened by the news coming out of Staten Island. Eric Garner died after being stopped for selling loose cigarettes. Neither the activity he was engaged in nor his response to the police officers who apprehended him warranted the force that was applied – force that ultimately resulted in his death.
As I have said before I know good people of all races are offended by injustice. Our criminal justice system must be one that every person believes in. We have a major problem in our City and country when people of color, black men in particular, believe that the justice system consistently fails them. I have great respect for police officers and the very difficult work they are charged with, but today’s announcement does not represent equal justice for all under the law.
When we witness a wrong we should raise our collective voices until we make it right. As a Council Member I remain as committed as ever to working with my colleagues to build better police-community relations and advancing laws that improve justice for all,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.


Captital NY: Councilmembers shaken by Garner decisionCouncil stages ‘die-in’ to protest Garner decision

International Business Times: Eric Garner Grand Jury Update: No Indictment For NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo In Chokehold Death

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: NYC pols react to Eric Garner decision

JP Updates: NYC Elected Officials Comment On Eric Garner Chokehold Verdict 


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