Protesters Interrupt Democratic Debates To Demand Mayor Bill de Blasio Take Action In Mishandling Of Eric Garner Case
The other candidates used the moment to their advantage.
Tuesday’s democratic debates were interrupted by protesters who are unhappy with how Mayor Bill de Blasio handled the Eric Garner case.
The New York Times reports Senator Cory Booker’s opening statement was interrupted by a group of protesters shouting, “Fire Pantaleo!” De Blasio’s remarks ended moments earlier.
The chant refers to Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner by putting him in a chokehold. In early July, the Justice Department decided against charging Pantaleo for the death. He is still employed with the New York Police Department.
De Blasio doesn’t have the power to fire Pantaleo, but his critics believe he has been too silent about the matter. Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory was one of the protestors and explained her position on Twitter, reports The Washington Post. She also claimed the protesters were forcibly removed after they were told they could stay if they quieted down.
Then minutes later after multiple candidates spoke, a police officer came over & showed us his cuffs & said if we didn’t leave we’d be arrested. We stayed seated and then they forcibly removed us. We chanted “Fire Pantaleo” & “I can’t breathe” as we were being removed.— Tamika D. Mallory (@TamikaDMallory) August 1, 2019
“We could not sit silent while [Mayor de Blasio] misrepresented his positions on Stop and Frisk and continues to employ the police officers who killed #EricGarner, in particular Daniel Pantaleo,” she wrote.
The other candidates used the moment to their political advantage. Booker’s team applauded the protesters on Twitter.
“To the folks who were standing up to Mayor de Blasio a few minutes ago—good for you. That's how change is made,” Booker wrote.
Other candidates weighed in during the debate broadcast.
"Officer Pantaleo used a chokehold that was prohibited by NYPD," said former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. "He knew what he was doing, that he was killing Eric Garner, and yet he has not been brought to justice. That police officer should be off the street."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand added, “He should be fired. He should be fired now."
“If I was the mayor, I’d fire him,” Gillibrand continued. “But as president, I would make sure that we had a full investigation, that the report would be made public and if I wasn’t satisfied, we would have a consent decree.”
When everything died down, the NYC mayor promised justice would be delivered within a month.
“There’s finally going to be justice — I have confidence in that — in the next 30 days in New York,” de Blasio said. “For the first time, we are not waiting on the federal Justice Department, which told the city of New York that we could not proceed because the Justice Department was pursuing their prosecution, and years went by and a lot of pain accrued."
De Blasio also promised to reform the NYPD.
“And in the meantime, what I’m working on is making sure — and I have for five years — there will never be another tragedy,” he continued. “There will never be another Eric Garner because we’re changing fundamentally how we police.”