In July of this year, 43 year-old Eric Garner’s heart stopped while being arrested in NYC.
Garner, who was suspected of selling black-market cigarettes in front of a store in Staten Island , commented to a plainclothes officer, “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!”
After telling the cop, “Don’t touch me, please” and swatting away the arms of law enforcement officers, Garner was placed in a chokehold and brought to the ground.
After telling police, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” the 350 pound, 6’3” African American male died within minutes.
A coroner’s report concluded that Garner died from neck and chest compression although asthma, heart disease and obesity were “contributing factors.”
The entire event was caught on video.
On Wednesday, a grand jury decided against the indictment of the plainclothes officer, Daniel Pantaleo involved in Garner’s death.
By that evening, hundreds of protesters obstructed traffic in New York streets, mixing with visitors in Rockefeller Center gathered for the annual lighting of the Christmas tree.
The massive crowd chanted, “I can’t breathe” as they created a standstill in the streets while police began to make arrests.
While Ferguson is still smoldering after destructive riots in protest of a similar “no indictment” decision in the case of Michael Brown, New York City is ripe for antagonists to incite riots in the nation’s most populated city.
Within hours of the decision, the stage had been set for national outrage by the words and actions a trio of national leaders who have hyper-focused on race in recent weeks: President Obama, Eric Holder and Al Sharpton.
Quickly jumping on the outrage, Rev. Al Sharpton met with Garner’s widow and mother after tweeting, “Mrs. Garner, widow of Eric Garner and I just spoke with Attorney General Eric Holder about the Garner case.”
Shortly after Sharpton’s tweet, Obama commented on the case, “we are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of accountability that exists between our communities and law enforcement.”
The President’s words were followed by outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder who announced immediate action, “This afternoon, I spoke with the widow of Eric Garner to inform her and her family of our decision to investigate potential federal civil rights violations.”
Holder is also independently investigating the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.