Barbara Lee: ‘Hands up/don’t shoot’ for Garner

Barbara Lee tweet 12-3-2014

UPDATE @ 4:52 P.M.: Here’s Lee’s full statement:

“My heart continues to go out to Eric Garner’s family and community.

“I am, like so many others, outraged by today’s verdict. The Department of Justice should act immediately to investigate this tragedy and ensure justice is done.

“We cannot allow the senseless murders of black men to continue.

“These tragedies have been happening for many years. But the recent high profile cases of injustice for the families of Eric Garner and Michael Brown have and should spark a national debate and long overdue action to address the structural and institutional racial biases in our nation.

“In 2009, my community experienced a similar tragedy with the murder of Oscar Grant.

“I stand with those moved by this tragedy to peacefully make their voices heard and I urge police to respect people exercising their First Amendment rights.

“As a nation and community, we must come together like never before to take the long overdue action necessary to address police misconduct, criminal justice reform and ensure equal justice for everyone.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    We need a few White guys to die tragically so we can rein in the cops. In the meantime, business owners in Oaktown should stock up on plywood

  • JohnW

    People across the political spectrum are bewildered that there was no indictment on some charge in the Eric Garner case, not even “excessive force.” Prosecutors take cases to grand juries for the specific purpose of presenting evidence of probable cause and asking for an indictment. And grand juries hardly ever decline to cooperate. So, the prosecutor obviously didn’t try very hard. It is inexplicable that the officer didn’t let up when Garner was telling him he couldn’t breathe.

    But if I were the officer’s attorney, I would make the following points to the courts (court of law and court of public opinion.)

    The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by the chokehold and by compression of the chest when the victim was on the ground. But ruling a death to be a homicide is not the same as ruling that a crime was committed. It just means death was caused by the actions of another person. Sometimes the actions are justified.

    The fact that the victim is black does not mean that race was a factor. In fact, there was a black officer present. That could make it difficult for the Justice Department to make a civil rights violation case out of this.

    The chokehold is against NYPD policy (which means the officer should be fired, and NYPD will be paying a huge financial settlement to the family), but it is not against the law.

    The NYPD policy is probably violated dozens of times a month (off camera) and, in 99 out of a hundred cases, nothing bad happens.

    The victim would not stop moving around so that the cops could cuff him, so they had to use physical force to restrain him. Given the victim’s girth, it is hard to see how they could do that without grabbing him around the neck.

    The officer claimed that he did not use a chokehold and that he used a method taught in training (????).

    They could have tased him, which might also have killed him considering his heart condition. Tasing would not violate NYPD policy but would generally be considered more violent and more dangerous.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Let’s have a caption for the photo of Ms Lee. Here’s mine:”You have The right to remain silent. Anything you say will be taken down and used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney…”

  • Elwood

    Choke hold or submission hold? One is NYPD approved, the other is not.


  • JohnW

    If it was a NYPD approved submission hold or simple headlock, that would seem to put things in a new light, legally speaking. So far, I’m not aware that anybody in authority at NYPD has stepped up to say that. Even if it was a submission hold or headlock, that still leaves the question of what happened once they had Mr. Garner down on the ground and were made aware of his breathing problem.

    Too much has been made of the fact that the “crime” he was being detained for was bootlegging cigarettes. The right has used that as an excuse to bash the NY cigarette tax, and the left has used it for their own purposes. It’s not up to the NYPD officers to decide whether or not to confront people bootlegging in plain sight, or to size up whether somebody has heart or respiratory health issues.

  • Elwood

    It would appear that the grand jury thought it was a submission hold.

  • JohnW

    Speculation, obviously. Somebody in NYPD should step up and say whether or not this was a “by the book” takedown. If it was, they should publicly say so to take the heat off the cop. If not, they should take his badge.

  • Elwood

    The other side of the Eric Garner case:

    Only for those who don’t wish to practice anti-white racism and throw the cop under the bus. Facts are troublesome things.


  • JohnW

    I had heard that — that the ranking officer and some others present were black or Latino, and that the cops were there because merchants were complaining about the guy disrupting their business bootlegging cigarettes outside their stores. Of course, while that throws some cold water on the “racism” angle, it doesn’t necessarily mean that excessive force wasn’t used. I’m still waiting to hear NYPD brass comment on whether or not it was a “by the book” takedown.

    Even George W. Bush threw the cop under the bus during a TV interview, saying the grand jury decision was “hard to understand.”

    Interesting story in Friday’s CC Times about three cases in South Carolina this year — where white cops were indicted for shooting unarmed black men. Never heard of those cases before.

  • Elwood

    Federal autopsy report on Brown released.

    Surprise! It’s the same as the others and like the others it corroborates Wilson’s account.