Español On Saturday, upwards of 3,000 people marched through the streets of Staten Island to protest the police killing of African American Staten Island resident, Eric Garner. On July 17, New York City police officer Daniel Pantelo applied a chokehold on an unarmed Garner — a restraint technique banned by the NYPD since 1993 — killing the 43-year-old father of six. The New York Medical Examiners Office has ruled Garner’s death a homicide.
Police originally approached Garner for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. His arrest was captured on video, where police can be seen taking Garner to the ground. Garner can then be heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” as other officers soon swarmed around him.
Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network organized the protest march in New York. Sharpton led the half-mile march from the spot Pantelo killed Garner to the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office. Eric Garner’s family joined Sharpton at the front of the march, along with former New York Governor David Patterson and United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew.
Organizers insisted that protests remain peaceful, and no incidents of violence or vandalism were reported. “We are not here to cause violence. We are here because violence has occurred,” Sharpton proclaimed.
The Eric Garner protest in New York comes on the heels of a week of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, as a result of the police killing of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown. Protesters in Staten Island chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” — a tribute to protests against police brutality in Ferguson.
Saturday’s march was the culmination of a week of heightened criticism of the NYPD’s “broken windows” tactics — a strategy that targets perpetrators of minor offenses in order to prevent more serious crimes from occurring.
Pantelo has since been stripped of his firearm and placed on desk duty. Another officer involved in the incident, Justin D’Amico, has been placed on desk duty as well. No arrests have been made, nor charges filed, against the officers responsible for the death of Eric Garner. A grand jury will begin hearing evidence on the case next month.