Sept. 20 (UPI) — The mother of Eric Garner, Gwen Carr, testified before Congress on police brutality Thursday.
Carr, whose son died after being placed in a chokehold by a NYPD officer, was joined by former tennis star James Blake and the Rev. Al Sharpton as they appeared before the House judiciary committee and called for federal legislation to combat the use of excessive force by police against people of color.
A medical examiner found that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo’s chokehold placed pressure on Garner’s neck and chest leading to a fatal asthma attack. In July, the U.S. Justice Department declined to file criminal charges against Pantaleo.
Blake, 39, was tackled to the ground and handcuffed by a plainclothes NYPD officer in New York in a case of mistaken identity in 2015.
“I think about my encounter with the NYPD … and think about those who weren’t so lucky,” he said. “Eric Garner was put in a chokehold by an officer, a chokehold that was banned decades earlier and was still used and led to his death.”
Carr called on Congress to take action to ensure that “no officer who is not there to do his job” is allowed on the police force.
“I come before you today not only to share my son’s story or the long quest of justice that we’ve been seeking for five years,” said Carr. “I urge you to take immediate action to impose the national changes and standards for policing.”
Sharpton cited discrepancies between how the use of excessive force is handled on state and local levels.
“What we really seek is this committee to begin moving toward federal law and federal standards that would define clearly where the line is in terms of excessive force and take this argument from a state and local level to where there’s federal standards that all must obey by,” he said.
Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said that excessive use of force against African Americans sends a message that “black lives don’t matter.”
“The criminal justice system has failed you, your son and your entire family,” he said to Carr.