The Justice Department has announced it will launch a civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner after a grand jury decided not to charge a white New York police officer for causing his death by placing him in a chokehold. Garner, who was an African-American father of six, died in July after being placed in a chokehold and wrestled to the ground. The grand jury’s decision set off protests across New York City that shut down parts of the city including the Brooklyn Bridge, the West Side Highway and the Lincoln Tunnel. Protesters also staged a die-in in Grand Central. At least 83 people were arrested. Garner’s death occurred just weeks before Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, and sparked a national debate about police use of excessive force, and the New York Police Department’s policy of cracking down on low-level offenses. Garner was first confronted on July 17 by police for allegedly selling single, untaxed cigarettes known as "loosies" on the streets of Staten Island. Garner’s family says it plans to sue the city for wrongful death, pre-death pain and suffering, and civil rights violations. We speak to Garner’s nephew, Brandon Davidson.
In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict a white New York City police office in the chokehold killing of Eric Garner, more than 80 people were arrested as protesters shut down parts of New York City, including the Brooklyn Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, West Side Highway and Sixth Avenue around Rockefeller Center. where the Christmas tree lighting ceremony was taking place. Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz talked to a group of protesters in Times Square last night.
Just a week after a grand jury in Missouri cleared police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, a New York grand jury cleared New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the killing of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold. Both officers were white. Both victims were African American. Thousands flooded the streets in New York City last night after the grand jury decision was announced. Democracy Now! was there and interviewed several people about why they were taking part in the protests. We speak with Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, about how the grand jury system can be used to shield police officers from prosecution. We also hear from retired NYPD detective Carlton Berkley about department restrictions on the use of chokeholds.
President Obama is reportedly preparing to nominate former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to replace ousted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. A trained physicist, Carter has a long history at the Pentagon, where he once served as the chief arms buyer. In 2006, he made headlines when he backed a pre-emptive strike against North Korea if the country continued with plans to conduct a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. He co-wrote a piece headlined "If Necessary, Strike and Destroy." We speak to Alice Slater, New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a member of the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee.
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