Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was delivering his opening remarks during part two of the Democratic presidential debates last night (July 31) in Detroit when protestors started to drown him out. “Fire Pantaleo!” were the shouts heard off-screen. The protesters weren’t targeting Booker, however. They were there for one of his competitors, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Fire Pantaleo” has been a demand since July 17, 2014, when New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer Daniel Pantaleo used an illegal chokehold on 43-year-old Eric Garner, killing him. The action was captured on a bystander’s camera. The call for Panteleo’s job has only grown louder since the United States Department of Justice decided not to bring federal civil rights charges against him five years later, this past July 16.
During the debate, when a moderator directly asked why Pantaleo is still on the force, de Blasio instead spoke about the Garner family, saying, “They’ve gone through extraordinary pain. They are waiting for justice and are going to get justice. There’s finally going to be justice.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) didn’t buy the mayor’s response and offered her own when asked if de Blasio’s answer was adequate. “No. [Pantaleo] should be fired. He should be fired now,” she said, adding, “If I were mayor, I would fire him.”
Kirsten Gillibrand, responding to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, says NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold, should be fired. pic.twitter.com/mj1QzUf9aO— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 1, 2019