Today, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) joins family, friends and people across the country and the world in remembering Eric Garner, a Staten Island father of six, who was killed one year ago by a vicious chokehold administered by New York City Police Department Officer, Daniel Pantaleo.  This horrifying act of violence, captured by cellphone video and witnessed by millions of people, was a stark reminder of the threat posed by aggressive policing against unarmed African-Americans and other people of color.   The failure to indict the officers involved in the Garner case pointed national attention to the need for prosecutorial reform.

Consequently, LDF partnered with the family members of New Yorkers killed by police to successfully urge Governor Cuomo to sign an Executive Order requiring the New York Attorney General to investigate and prosecute police-involved deaths.  And on July 8th, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 147 which, not only appoints the Attorney General as a special prosecutor in matters relating to police-involved deaths of unarmed civilians it also gives the special prosecutor power over cases where there is a question about whether the civilian was armed and dangerous at the time of his or her death. While this is an important step forward, LDF’s police reform work in New York City will continue as it monitors its recent settlement agreement with the City to ensure that public housing and other residents of New York City are not subjected to racially discriminatory stops and arrests.  “The tragic killing of Eric Garner crystallizes the urgent need to reform the NYPD and repair its damaged relationship with New York City’s vibrant and diverse communities of color,” said Jin Hee Lee, LDF’s Deputy Director of Litigation, who is co-lead counsel in Davis v. City of New York, which is part of the court monitoring of the NYPD.  “In solidarity with the victims of police violence, we must together fulfill Mr. Garner’s declaration that ‘this stops today.’”     

With the widespread realization that police misconduct and violence is a national problem, LDF has launched a Race and Policing Reform Campaign that will advance federal, state, and local laws and policies to ensure bias-free and responsible policing.  In addition to advocating for federal reform, LDF has supported calls for local investigations into police use of excessive and lethal force against civilians in cities such as St. Louis County, MO, Baltimore, MD, and North Charleston, SC.

“On this day, LDF remembers New Yorkers who have lost their lives at the hands of police,” said Monique Dixon, Senior Policy Counsel and lead counsel of LDF’s Race and Policing Reform Campaign. “We pledge to honor their lives by continuing our fight for safe, unbiased, and respectful policing in communities across the country.”

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The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization.  Please refer to us in all media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “LDF”.   

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