A Staten Island grand jury's decision on Wednesday to clear a New York City police officer of wrongdoing in the death of Eric Garner provoked negative reactions from politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle.
President Obama said it was an indication the criminal justice system requires serious reforms:
New York’s two senators, both Democrats, called for the Department of Justice to immediately investigate Garner’s death. Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator, said it should happen as soon as possible. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called the grand jury’s decision “shocking.”
“The death of Eric Garner is a tragedy that demands accountability,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “Nobody unarmed should die on a New York City street corner for suspected low-level offenses. I’m shocked by this grand jury decision, and will be calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.”
Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from neighboring New Jersey, joined in calling for a federal investigation.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (C) places his hands in the "Don't Shoot" position while speaking out with members of the New York congressional delegation on a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to bring criminal charges against a white police officer who was involved in the death of Eric Garner, December 3, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Outrage at the grand jury's decision wasn't confined to Democrats, though. The Federalist, a conservative website, ran a piece titled "Hands Up, Don't Choke: Eric Garner Was Killed By Police For No Reason."
"There’s an America where people who kill for no legitimate reason are held to account, and there’s an America where homicide isn’t really a big deal as long as you play for the right team," wrote author Sean Davis. "Unfortunately Eric Garner was a victim in the second America, where some homicides are apparently less equal than others."
Leon H. Wolf of RedState wrote that not charging the officer was "really and truly baffling to me."
"And now, because the police earn such automatic and unjustified trust in the minds of so many, even on the rare occasion that a cop is actually videotaped, the criminal justice system cannot be trusted to provide effective oversight. "Pathetic."
Here's Charles C.W. Cooke, a writer for National Review:
"A government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice," said Russell Moore, a prominent evangelical preacher.
One of the few politicians to applaud the grand jury decision as fair was Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who is awaiting trial on a 20-count federal indictment handed down earlier this year.
“There’s no question that this grand jury had an immensely difficult task before them, but I have full faith that their judgment was fair and reasoned and I applaud DA Donovan for overseeing this case with the utmost integrity,” Grimm said in a statement.
“As we all pray for the Garner family, I hope that we can now move forward and begin to heal together as a community.”
Update, 5:50 p.m.:
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said that New Yorkers should "respect" the grand jury's decision not to indict.
"During this tense time in New York, it must be noted and remembered that no organization has done more to safeguard the lives of young African Americans in New York City than the NYPD," he wrote in a Facebook post.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.