NEW YORK (AP) – The deaths of two unarmed Black men – Eric Garner and Michael Brown – during encounters with White police officers continued to stir emotions and prompt calls for reflection and action to improve race relations after recent grand jury decisions not to indict White officers in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, over the deaths.
GARNER’S WIDOW: HE NEVER RESISTED ARREST
Eric Garner’s widow says he may have had a history of encounters with New York City police but she insists he never resisted arrest – the justification given by the police union for the use of force that included a chokehold that led to Garner’s death.
“I’m not going to say he was a career criminal, but I’m going to say he had a past of being arrested,” Esaw Garner told NBC’S “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And he never, not once, ever resisted arrest.”
A bystander’s cellphone video captured the fatal encounter in July. Garner was being arrested on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, according to police. The video shows Garner telling officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed. He is heard saying “I can’t breathe” as officers held him down.
His widow said police had been harassing both her and her husband. He was “murdered unjustly,” she said, adding that she and her children have moved out of their Staten Island neighborhood over concern for their safety.
“I’m so afraid of what could happen to them in the street by the police,” she said.
The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her claims of harassment.
DE BLASIO CALLS FOR ‘HONEST CONVERSATION’
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says there has to be “an honest conversation” about the history of racism in the U.S. to help bring together police and the community. Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, de Blasio declined to answer specifically when pressed about whether he respected the grand jury’s decision last week. He said he respects the judicial process and is focusing on how to change the dynamics between police and residents to bring them closer.
NAACP PRESIDENT ENDORSES OBAMA SUGGESTION OF BODY-WORN CAMERAS FOR POLICE
NAACP president Cornell William Brooks, appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, called for outfitting police with body-worn cameras, something President Barack Obama has recommended, and changing law enforcement policy. “We have to change the model of policing,” Brooks said.
PHILADELPHIA OFFICIALS CALL FOR ACTION TO BOLSTER PUBLIC TRUST IN POLICE
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the two recent high-profile cases became the catalyst for “two of the worst weeks” in modern American history and underscore the need for a review of police training and other issues. “You in essence have the citizens who want to be protected who are now increasingly afraid of the police and you have some police officers who are increasingly afraid of the community,” the mayor said On the same program, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he is troubled that so many people view the justice system as unfair. Ramsey is co-chair of President Barack Obama’s task force that will recommend ways to shore up public trust.
About 200 protesters in Philadelphia staged a silent “die in” outside the football stadium Sunday night. The demonstrators lay on the street for 4 minutes and 30 seconds to symbolize the 4 hours and 30 minutes that the body of Michael Brown lay on the street after he was shot in Ferguson, Missouri. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a handful of football fans exiting the stadium after the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks cursed at the demonstrators.
In Northern California, three officers and a technician were hurt and six people arrested when a protest in Berkeley turned violent. Police fired rubber bullets and used smoke and flares during the night-long protest that began Saturday night and continued into early Sunday as the crows grew increasingly unruly. Protests also were reported elsewhere, including Miami and Milwaukee.
REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR: ‘TOO MUCH DIVISION’ IN AMERICA
Ohio’s Republican governor said the unrest underscores the need for political leaders to be inclusive and to unite, not divide. Gov. John Kasich said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that a “significant percentage” of the country believes the system’s not working for them and can be working against them. “They need to be listened to and they need to be responded to,” Kasich said. “In our country today, there’s too much division, too much polarization – black, white; rich, poor; Democrat, Republican. America does best when we’re united.”
ACTOR FOXX SAYS COUNTRY NEEDS TO HAVE TOUGH DIALOGUE
Jamie Foxx called for a tough dialogue in the wake of killings, grand jury decisions, and protests. “We’ll probably have to have a few uncomfortable conversations to sort of get things right, so everybody can walk and enjoy America like it’s supposed to be enjoyed,” Foxx said Sunday. Foxx made the remarks at the New York premiere of “Annie,” a musical comedy he stars in among others.
POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO GARNER’S DEATH TO TAKE MONTHS
New York City’s police commissioner says an internal NYPD investigation into the Garner’s death could take “upwards of three to four months.” Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Commissioner William Bratton said interviews of officers had already started. The NYPD investigation will determine if any department policies were violated. He said the NYPD investigation would likely conclude before a federal civil rights probe that was announced last week after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death.