December 3rd marks one year after a grand jury failed to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
This week, activist group Justice League NYC is fighting for the family by demanding the officer be stripped of his duties.
The group, founded under Harry Belafonte’s social justice organization Gathering of Justice, has launched #ChokeholdOnTheCity, a call to action to share information about the city’s policies and their disappointment over the officer’s current status with the NYPD. In 2014, Pantaleo placed Garner in a chokehold after a dispute about loose cigarettes. The case launched the trend of civilians recording unlawful police activity with their mobile phones, sparking much-needed national conversation about law enforcement practices.
Despite the haunting footage of Garner’s death, Pantaleo wasn’t indicted and was instead placed on modified assignment. Commissioner Bill Bratton previously stated Pantaleo would remain on assignment until further federal investigations were completed.
On Thursday, the League will protest near New York’s Gracie Mansion, where Mayor Bill de Blasio resides. The group met with de Blasio last year to end the city’s “broken windows” policy, which targets petty crimes. They’ve also started the hashtags #FireDanielPantaleo and #ChokeholdOnTheCity to spread their message.
Speaking with NewsOne, Carmen Perez, Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice and Co-Founder of Justice League NYC, says Mayor de Blasio hasn’t delivered on his promise to handle the ongoing turmoil of police reform in the city. Perez is hoping de Blasio can take cues from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting.
“New Yorkers waited, believing that the justice system would serve its proper function in the wrongful death of Eric Garner. When that failed, the only recourse for justice was Mayor de Blasio, who ran on a platform of police reform, and Commissioner Bratton, who claimed he wanted to repair and rebuild positive community relations between police and the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.
Well, we have waited for the NYPD to do its job. We’ve waited one full year for justice. That’s unacceptable.Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago acted swiftly and decisively in calling for the resignation of Police Chief McCarthy after the negligent handling of Laquan McDonald’s murder by a Chicago police officer and the subsequent coverup by CPD. We encourage Mayor de Blasio to follow Chicago in making a strong and unwavering call for justice. Daniel Pantaleo must go. And Mayor de Blasio must lead.”
According to AMNewYork, a Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed the case is still ongoing. Stu London, an attorney for Pantaleo, added investigations of fatal shootings by police officers can take roughly five years to complete.
In July, London told The New York Daily News Pantaleo was prepared to head back to work as an officer.
“They have to prove my client had a specific intent to deprive Eric Garner of a federally protected constitutional right,” London said. “Based on all the pertinent information I have, they don’t reach that threshold in this case.”
“The unbelievable part is this has not soured him one bit on doing law enforcement,” his lawyer Stuart London told the Daily News. “It hasn’t diminished his desire to help the citizens of this city.”
Police sources told AMNewYork Bratton is knowingly giving Pantaleo the “benefit of the doubt” while the civil investigation continues.
Find out more about the League’s protest here.