Following close on the heels of the refusal of the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, another grand jury in New York returned another no bill in the death of Eric Garner after being placed in a forbidden choke hold by officer Daniel Pantaleo. Several politicians weighed in on the case, each offering his own slant.
President Obama said that the distrust among minorities of the police was “an American problem,” not a minority problem.
“We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement,” he said. “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem.”
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for an immediate federal investigation tweeting, “The justice department must launch a federal investigation into Eric Garner’s death as soon as possible.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on citizens to “respect the legal process and rule of law,” adding, “If there are improvements to be made and lessons to be learned, we at the state level are ready to act to better the system.”
New York Mayor Bill deBlasio issued a statement saying in part:
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – one of our nation’s most profound thinkers on these issues – taught us something very simple: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ The problem of police-community relations and civil rights is not just an issue for people of color – or young people – or people who get stopped by police. This is a fundamental issue for every American who cares about justice.”
Perhaps the most interesting and disconnected reaction to the grand jury finding came from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who spoke to Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball Wednesday night.
“Well you know I think it’s hard not to watch that video of him saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ and not be horrified by it,” Paul said.
“But I think there’s something bigger than just the individual circumstances,” he continued. “Obviously the individual circumstances are important, but I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive.”
Paul went on to blame the politicians for telling the police to go out and arrest people for selling loose cigarettes saying that it puts the police in a “difficult situation with bad laws.”
So there you have it, it was not an overly aggressive police officer using a forbidden choke-hold and then ignoring the pleas of Garner who clearly told him that he could not breathe that caused Eric Garner to die, it was taxes, the root of all that is evil in the U.S. today.
Watch the interview in the video below from MSNBC.
h/t: Huffington Post