A Staten Island grand jury decided on Wednesday that criminal charges will not be brought against NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner.
Garner, a 43-year-old unarmed black man with a criminal past was held in a chokehold by the white 29-year-old police officer, in what he described as a takedown move. Pantaleo testified that he did not intend to choke Garner who was under arrest for allegedly stealing loose cigarettes. The fatal altercation was captured on video and has been shared with the world.
NYPD officials said chokeholds are banned, but not illegal.
The non-indictment came a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri also did not indict white police officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot unarmed, black 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Further fueling controversy about race and crime, the non-indictment sparked protests in New York City, as people chanted, "I can't breathe," Garner's final words.
Many took to Twitter, using the hashtag #ICantBreathe to voice their opinion about the case.
— Ryan P. C. Trimble (@Ryntern) December 4, 2014
The Twitter hashtag #ShutitDown called for protesters to stop at the tree lighting to meet for a "die-in," a peaceful protest held at the main concourse of Grand Central Station in Manhattan. At midnight, about 1,000 protesters took over the Brooklyn Bridge for a sit-in. Protesters also shut down part of the West Side Highway near 50th Street and swarmed Times Square. "If you really want to dignify the life of Eric Garner, you will do so through peaceful protest; you will work relentlessly for change," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in Staten Island. At least 78 arrests were made and a police officer's personal vehicle was set on fire in Brooklyn, although it is not known if the arson was related to the protests. Another trending Twitter hashtag, #Crimingwhilewhite, features tweets that suggest double standards regarding race and police. Check out some of the tweets below.
When I was a young boy I brought a toy gun in my carry-on to the airport. Instead of shooting me, they mailed it home. #CrimingWhileWhite — David McDowell (@dgmcdowell) December 4, 2014
I shoplifted when I was 14 and they let me go because my parents came down and we "looked like a nice family." #crimingwhilewhite — Joel Watson (@hijinksensue) December 4, 2014
"https://twitter.com/AngryFistofGod">@AngryFistofGod: https://twitter.com/hashtag/CrimingWhileWhite?src=hash">#CrimingWhileWhite When I was 15 I took a cop's gun out of his holster, he laughed and showed me how to use it." -- wow
— C. Diddy (@Carlitas__Way) https://twitter.com/Carlitas__Way/status/540326920567926784">December 4, 2014
#CrimingWhileWhite shouldn't be just a trend but serve as an eye opener & a lesson we all should draw from in order to improve mankind
— SpaceShipBoyz Crew (@SpaceShipBoyz) December 4, 2014
Protests also occurred across America, such as in Oakland, Calif. And Denver, Co.
"When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem," President Obama said from Washington, "and it's my job as president to help solve it."