King Center Statement on the Killing of Eric Garner


As people around the world are monitoring the protests for justice in Staten Island, New York, “I would like to, again, extend my condolences to Mrs. Esaw Snipes-Garner and the remainder of the Garner family during this trying time,” said The King Center’s CEO, Dr. Bernice A. King.  “I am deeply disappointed in the grand jury’s decision not to issue an indictment for the senseless killing of Eric Garner. I join Washington Post columnist and conservative Fox News Network commentator, Charles Krauthammer, in calling the grand jury’s failure to recommend the prosecution of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Mr. Garner ‘totally incomprehensible.’” 

Mr. Garner’s death was tragic enough, especially considering that he left behind six children and several grand-children.  His murder was made even more tragic when considering that there are three criminal justice systems in America—one each for whites, blacks and a separate system for police officers.  It is shameful that unmistakable video evidence of Mr. Garner’s murder was not enough to bring Officer Pantaleo to trial.  “I fear,” said King, “that police officers will now become more willing and able to use unwarranted deadly force with impunity as a result of this outcome.  It is clear that America is on the perilous precipice of a police state.”

The King Center is appealing to the citizens of Staten Island and everywhere to keep their protests against this injustice nonviolent and do what they can to prevent chaos and disorder in their community. This is the best way we can honor Mr. Eric Garner’s life and win greater public support and goodwill for the reforms necessary to prevent police officers from using excessive force when apprehending suspects of all hues.

This ruling underscores the urgent need for requiring police in all communities across the nation to complete training in nonviolent engagement of citizens, such as the King Center has begun providing in Ferguson. Law enforcement across the nation must be better prepared to avoid the use of deadly force, if we truly want to have peaceful, thriving communities where police and citizens are united by bonds of trust and mutual respect.     

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