For Immediate Release
December 4, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Democracy cannot breathe, indeed will die, if those enjoined to protect it and uphold the laws snuff it out — with no consequences. Thousands of New Yorkers spontaneously poured onto the streets of the city last night chanting, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” the dying words of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man killed by a Staten Island police officer using a deadly chokehold that had been banned by the New York City Police Department. The evidence was clear, captured on a cell phone for all to see, except for the grand jury which refused to indict. The protestors spoke for all of us around the country. No men, women or children can breathe in America right now when Black men and boys are routinely killed with impunity by police officers. All Americans want justice, and in the wake of the killings in Ferguson and Cleveland and New York, we all need to demand justice for all Americans by continuing to stand together in strategic nonviolent protest.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s action to open a civil rights investigation into Eric Garner’s case is a step in the right direction. Michael Brown’s parents call, and now President Obama’s call to equip police officers across the country with cameras is also a step in the right direction. Retraining the police will help a lot, but will not solve our deep systemic racial problems that we continue to ignore at our peril. In every town and every city we need sustained nonviolent action. We need to work together to fix our broken system of justice and to make America live up to her creed and respect for all under the law.
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.