Three days ago, Eric Garner should have celebrated turning 49 surrounded by his loved ones.
Instead, millions of people across the country honored his birthday with the hashtags #ICantBreathe, #JusticeForEricGarner, and #BlackLivesMatter to remember his life and what his friends and family were robbed of by the New York City Police Department. We fought hard for five long years in order to see justice for Eric Garner after he was murdered by Daniel Pantaleo of the NYPD on July 17, 2014. His death represents the thousands of unarmed Black women and men killed by the police.
On September 19, the House Judiciary Committee held a historic oversight hearing on our country’s current policing practices. Federal law prohibits any governmental authority from engaging in a “pattern of practice” of conduct that deprives persons of their constitutional rights. While this law has not been adhered to by law enforcement when it comes to Black lives, we will take this moment to, again, demand accountability and highlight those who are victims of police violence.
The hearing focused on the federal government’s role in addressing our concerns about the unconstitutional police practices that continues to take our lives, and included testimony from Reverend Al Sharpton, Mrs. Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, and other allies. We watched and listened and encourage you to do the same. We need your voice to demand accountability and action.
Watch the hearing here, and amplify your voice on social media using the hashtags #policeoversighthearing, #blacklivesmatter, and #whatmatters2020.
Police killings are now a leading cause of death among Black men. The epidemic of police violence is an urgent public health concern.
One in a thousand Black men will die from police violence over the course of their lives and are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. Further, it is far more likely that an unarmed Black man or woman will be killed by the police.
Ahead of the 2020 election, racism and police brutality have been buzzwords on the debate stage. While some candidates might seem to recognize some of the impacts of structural racism, we are still waiting for many to provide concrete, adequate policy proposals to address these issues.
This is one of the reasons we will generate attention around this hearing and make sure that we are all watching and listening.