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["Speaking Truth To Empower"]
DOJ' decision not to indict Officer Pantaleo was recommended by New York prosecutors...
Photo: Youtube screenshot

On Monday, the Justice Department said they will not pursue federal charges against killer-cop Daniel Pantaleo for literally choking Eric Garner to death on a Staten Island sidewalk five years ago, today, on July 17, 2014.

This DOJ’s decision makes it clear the highest law enforcement officials in the land don’t give a damn about “the rule of law” when it comes to cops killing Black Americans. Their message is unmistakable: police can abuse us and there will be no accountability by this Justice Department.

Garner’s unjustified murder, recorded on video, clearly shows Officer Pantaleo placing him in a chokehold, that was supposedly outlawed by NYPD regulations. Pantaleo killed Garner as he repeatedly uttered his dying words “I can’t breathe.” Why is the NYPD still employing this killer? Since the Justice Department decided they will not seek justice for Garner, Pantaleo has now basically gotten off scot-free.

We should denounce this DOJ ruling.

However, the ultimate blame for this travesty should be placed at the feet of those New York officials who did everything to ensure that Eric Garner’s family would receive no justice.

The choice to drop the pursuit of federal charges was make by Attorney General William Barr. That Barr would apparently obstruct justice here shouldn’t surprise us. Hasn’t he been doing the same thing with his false interpretation of the Mueller Report?

The decision not to file federal charges is totally in line with what we’ve seen the Trump White House do in regard to racial policing. The Trump Administration, first under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have nullified the consent decrees that were secured during the Obama Administration. These consent decrees were a first step in reforming racist police departments.

In the Garner case, Mr. Barr reportedly intervened into a disagreement between civil right prosecutors who were pushing for prosecuting Pantaleo, and New York prosecutors—who were against any indictment. The fact New York prosecutors wanted no part of indicting Pantaleo is instructive of the incestuous nature that exists between local police and prosecutors.

On Tuesday, Brooklyn’s United States attorney Richard Donoghue claimed, “the evidence does not support charging Police Officer Pantaleo with a federal civil rights violation.” Donoghue is evidently one of the prosecutors who was against seeking justice for the Garner family. Donoghue, and the other New York prosecutors, were said to be worried they couldn’t win the case.

Are we to believe these prosecutors decided not to indict just because they feared they couldn’t win? It’s easy enough to denounce Barr’s decision. But we should remember Barr sided with these New York prosecutors.

Over and over again, when police kill Black people, we see responsible “officers of the court” and politicians continually pervert any concept of impartial justice. With regularity police, politicians, and prosecutors continually conspire to exonerate criminal cops, including by lying for them. In the Garner case we’ve seen the same thing by certain officials in New York.

For example, let’s quickly look at a few lies that have come from the mouth of PBA President Patrick Lynch.

Mr. Lynch has claimed “Officer Pantaleo did not cause” the death of Garner. Lynch complained about what he called “scapegoating a good and honorable officer, who was doing his job in the manner he was taught.” So, Pantaleo’s job is to strangle a Black man to death because he had sold “loosie” cigarettes in the past?

We now know the man Lynch characterizes as being “a good and honorable officer” has more complaints in his file that 95 percent of the other NYPD officers. Leaked documents—by a former Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) official—documents 14 individual allegations against Pantaleo, along with seven disciplinary charges. Most are apparently related to Pantaleo committing various acts of assault.

Lynch also says Officer Pantaleo used a “seatbelt hold,” not a chokehold on Garner. When police officials engage in this kind of flagrant falsification of basic facts why would we ever believe anything they tell us in these instances? Ridiculous rationalizations like this trash the integrity of police officials.

This police penchant for lying demonstrates that they will usually cover-up for their officers, even when those officers have committed the most atrocious crimes. Because of the Blue Wall of silence, we just can’t honor the word of police in these matters. Police continually give Black people reasons to distrust them.

But police aren’t the only ones we should be criticizing here.

Politicians, and prosecutors, who rubberstamp racial policing policies should also be seriously scrutinized. Police brutalize Blacks because they know politicians and prosecutors will find their actions acceptable because of the criminalization of Black America. The racism police exhibit is evident in a criminal justice system that finds it easy to prosecute and incarcerate Blacks for anything—while it does everything to absolve killer-cops like Pantaleo.

The actions of former Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan are a case in point. Mr. Donovan oversaw the grand jury proceeding against Officer Pantaleo. However, it is clear Donovan wasn’t trying to secure an indictment.

District Attorney Donovan asked the grand jury to consider manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges. But Donovan did not ask for the lesser charge of reckless endangerment to be considered. Why?

We’ve all heard the phrase that a “grand jury can indict a ham sandwich.” However, we know criminal courts hardly ever indict—much less convict—police for anything having to do with abusing Black people. So, why would Donovan’s office not add this lesser charge of reckless endangerment if they were truly trying to get an indictment against Pantaleo?

After the non-indictment, Donovan skillfully hid behind the secrecy rules of the grand jury. This was clearly a good way to avoid transparency. It should be noted that Donovan reportedly submitted a successful court application to release specific aspects of the grand jury proceedings—numbers of exhibits, how long jurors hear evidence, and how many witnesses testified.

But what really happened in that Staten Island grand jury is still lost in secrecy. And Donovan was able to win a congressional seat—even though he lost it last November.

After yesterday decision, activist groups renewed their calls for Mayor de Blasio to fire Pantaleo. That Pantaleo continues to be employed is adding insult to injury. Mayor de Blasio ran his original mayoral campaign on police reform. However, he has long since reneged on those promises.

Lately, Mayor de Blasio often sounds more like a police apologist.

Many New Yorkers had high hopes for this “progressive” mayor. But by hiring “Broken Windows” champion, Bill Bratton, de Blasio betrayed the Black and Latino voters of New York City who trusted him to produce real change in the NYPD. Did he really think he could reform racial policing by hiring Bratton? Or, was he trying to assuage White New Yorkers who feared his rhetoric about reforming the NYPD?

The killing of Eric Garner happened under Mayor de Blasio’s watch. But Pantaleo faced no justice in New York City. De Blasio showed zero backbone in standing up to the NYPD. He now says he expected the Justice Department to hold Pantaleo accountable.

How lame is this reasoning?

Why would Mayor de Blasio expect this when New York prosecutors were recommending to the Justice Department that Officer Pantaleo should not be prosecuted for killing Eric Garner?

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