DOJ’s Failure To Indict In Eric Garner’s Murder Means We Still Can’t Breathe

The worst is here now.

“So where’s the justice? Don’t apologize to me. Fire the officer. Don’t give me your condolences. I heard that five years ago. We want justice and we want it today,” Emerald Garner said on Tuesday.

Garner’s emotions were not only understandable but appropriate for the situation at hand, as it had just been announced that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo wasn’t going to jail and wouldn’t face any criminal charges for murdering her father, Eric Garner, for the world to see.

“As you all can tell, I’m very angry,” Garner explained to a group of people and media members outside of the courthouse. “I am very angry. I stand here in the spirit of my sister who fought for justice until her dying day for my father, standing outside protesting. She called the CCRB to do this investigation and they didn’t do their job. We called the Department of Justice, they didn’t do their job. So no, I’m going to stand outside and I’m going to scream it. Pantaleo needs to be fired! He needs to be fired.”

In 2014, we watched as Garner died on video due to a chokehold from Pantaleo that had supposedly been outlawed by the NYPD. In 2017, Garner’s other daughter, Erica, passed away at the age of 27 after becoming an activist against police brutality in the wake of her father’s death. Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the incident in 2014, was harassed by police and imprisoned and is currently in solitary confinement.

Yet, Pantaleo and other members from the NYPD that were involved, are all free.

The chokehold wasn’t the only reason Eric Garner couldn’t breathe, as the (in)justice system continues to suffocate us. Because, according to ThinkProgress.com, United States Attorney General William Barr personally made the final decision not to charge Pantaleo “after being briefed by [Eastern District of New York staff] and the Civil Rights Division.” And since Pantaleo didn’t face any charges from the State of New York, the only people who can punish him now are the ones that employ him, the NYPD.

And we’ve already seen that movie too many times to count.

Some are calling for NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio to step up and fire Pantaleo. But what good would that do now, since De Blasio has been in office this entire time, sitting on his hands.

This is why Tuesday’s decision was yet another gut-punch to Black America.

Not because we didn’t have a notion that this outcome was coming, but because it’s just another reminder that we still can’t breathe.

Carron J. Phillips, Senior Columnist with The Shadow League, hails from Saginaw, Michigan. In 2016, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. Phillips graduated with honors from Morehouse College in 2006 and received his Masters in 2011 from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.