President Barack Obama renewed his call for reforming the justice system after news broke that a grand jury decided not to indict the white officer involved in the death of an African-American man in New York City last summer.
“We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and the strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement,” Obama said, speaking at unrelated event in Washington.
Hours before Obama spoke, the local district attorney announced the grand jury’s decision. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo was videotaped placing 43-year-old Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold — a practice banned by the NYPD — last July. Garner subsequently died. The city’s medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.
Obama did not weigh in on the specifics of the Garner case but the president pointed to his earlier vow to fundamentally mend the relationship between communities of colour and police. Obama has repeatedly weighed in on the topic since last week, when a separate grand jury decided to not indict a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, who killed a black teen, Michael Brown.
“I am absolutely committed as president of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we’re equal under the law,” Obama said. “Right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. And in some cases those may be misperceptions. But in some cases that’s a reality.”
Obama said Attorney General Eric Holder will directly address the Staten Island incident in the near future.
“I just got off the phone with my attorney general, Eric Holder,” Obama said. “He will have more specific comments about the case in New York.”
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