The Rev. Al Sharpton declared the country is in a “national crisis” after another high-profile grand jury declined to indict a white police officer involved in the death of an African-American man.
“How many people have to die before people understand this is not an illusion, this is a reality that America has got to come to terms with,” Sharpton said at a Harlem press conference with Garner’s family.
Earlier in the day a Staten Island grand jury decided to not bring charges against Daniel Pantaleo, an NYPD officer who was filmed placing 43-year-old Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold in July. Chokeholds are against police policy in New York City.
Sharpton directly connected the Garner controversy to other fatal incidents between local police departments and unarmed black men. Notably, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, was rocked by violent protests last week after a grand jury decided to not indict Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Angry demonstrations have also erupted in Manhattan.
“We are dealing with a national crisis,” Sharpton said, accusing local prosecutors of being tainted by bias in these sorts of cases. “No amount of secret grand juries with local prosecutors that put up evidence that we do not know is going to stop people from raising the questions and demanding the answers.”
Sharpton, a close ally of both the Garner and Brown families, also embraced the federal investigation into Garner’s death. The veteran civil rights activist said he was organising a rally in Washington in support of Justice Department intervention.
“A week from this Saturday, Dec. 13, we are having a national march in Washington, DC where we are calling for the Justice Department to take this case and the case in Ferguson and the case in Cleveland,” he said. “It is time for a national march to deal with a national crisis.”
Garner’s family agreed and said they were “so happy” with the federal investigation. They were less happy, however, with the apology offered by Pantaleo, the officer involved in his death.
Asked if she accepted his condolences, Garner’s widow shouted, “Hell no!”
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