Socialist Worker

Fresh anger in US as cop cleared of Eric Garner killing

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2433

Striking Home care workers protested in solidarity with victims of police racism

Striking Home care workers protested in solidarity with victims of police racism (Pic: Overpass Light Brigade)


Cities and university campuses across the US have erupted in fury after yet another white cop has avoided charges for killing a black man.

A grand jury ruled last week that New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo should not be indicted after Eric Garner died when he was put in a chokehold.

Harrowing video footage shot by witness Ramsey Orta showed Eric gasping for air and telling officers 11 times, “I can’t breathe.”

His dying words have been taken up by people across the US still reeling from the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to charge the cop who killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. 

And the anger has fused with other struggles. Homecare, airport, gas station convenience store and fast food workers struck in 190 cities across the US on Thursday of last week. They are demanding union rights and $15 (£9.30) an hour.

Across the country strikers began their walkouts with a moment’s silence for victims of police racism and brutality.

Workers held up signs with the names of Mike Brown and Eric Garner and placards which read “We will not forget”.

Carlos Robinson is a St. Louis, Missouri Burger King worker who staged a die-in alongside fellow strikers during the strike in a convenience store.

 He said, “Today felt different—we were doing it for Mike Brown, and trying to show the significance between injustice in our workplaces and injustice in our communities.”  

Protesters in California also turned out on the streets last Sunday for the fifth night in a row, with demonstrators blocking motorway traffic.

At the University of California at Berkeley crowds chanted “I can’t breathe” as they marched downtown.

Targeted

Cops targeted demonstrators with tear gas, rubber bullets and flares.

Eric was killed in July after being arrested under suspicion for selling untaxed “loose” cigarettes.

His wife Esaw said that cops knew his name, and the couple had frequently experienced racist harassment from police.

“They harassed us,” she said. “And I would just say, ‘Eric, just keep walking. 

“Don’t say anything. Don’t respond’. You know? Don’t give them a reason to do anything to you.”

Esaw said she warned her older son not attend parties out of fear of the cops.

“I’m so afraid of what could happen to them in the street by the police,” she added.

She urged protesters to keep fighting for justice.

US President Barack Obama has also come under fire. 

He was forced to meet with veteran civil rights campaigner Al Sharpton to discuss the fallout of the police killings.

After the grand jury’s decision not to indict Pantaleo he has been forced to recognise “issues” surrounding the police killings of Eric and Mike.

He said the deaths “speaks to the larger issues that we’ve been talking about now for the last week, the last month, the last year, and, sadly, for decades”.

His response is to set up a task force to “strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and communities of colour and minority communities that feel that bias is taking place”.

Sharpton has called a national march against police violence to take place in Washington DC next Saturday.

 


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