New York, NY – After over 5 years of investigation, Daniel Pantaleo, a New York City police officer, has finally been fired for using an illegal chokehold that led to the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man accused of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Police commissioner James O’Neill announced on Monday that he has fired Pantaleo based on a recent recommendation from a department disciplinary judge. Pantaleo had been on desk duty with pay since Garner’s death, but has now been terminated from his position following the administrative trial which ended in June. Pantaleo will also no longer qualify to receive pension.
Many officers were on the scene but Pantaleo was the officer who was caught on video putting Garner in a headlock while he wrestled him to the ground in a violent arrest in 2014. Garner died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
During the arrest, Garner pleaded repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” It became a rallying cry for national protests over race and the police excessive use of force.
Autopsy results confirmed that Garner died of heart attack and noted that the chokehold was a factor on his death. A medical examiner also ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in 2014.
In addition, the Department of Justice announced back in July that it would not file any charges against Pantaleo.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Fight Voting Barriers in Texas
A group of organizations of color recently came together on Sept. 11 in San Antonio to represent a lawsuit they filed arguing Senate Bill 1 violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by intentionally targeting and burdening methods and means of voting used by voters of color.
Representatives gathered at the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (in San Antonio) to represent their case. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Reed Smith LLP, and The Arc filed the lawsuit for the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Justice, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Arc of Texas.
The defendants in the case are Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Deputy Secretary of State of Texas Jose Esparza, Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, Elections Administrator of Bexar County Jacque Callanen, and Elections Administrator of Harris County Isabel Longoria.
S.B. 1 includes a series of suppressive voting-related provisions that will make it much harder for Texas residents to vote and disenfranchise some altogether, particularly Black and Latino voters and voters with disabilities.
The plaintiffs claim the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by imposing barriers against voters with disabilities and denying people with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in the state’s voting programs.
The lawsuit challenges multiple provisions in SB 1, including:
- Limitations on early voting hours and constraints on the distribution of mail-in ballot applications.
- The elimination of drive-thru voting centers and the prohibition of mail-in ballot drop-boxes.
“Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has been fighting for the rights of all U.S. citizens to vote for 108 years,” said Delta Sigma Theta President and CEO Beverly E. Smith. “S.B. 1 directly threatens the right to vote of over 20,000 members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and their family and friends in Texas, and we are committed to fight against S.B. 1 on their behalf.”
Texas is among more than 40 other states that have enacted legislative efforts to substantially restrict voting access. LDF and The Arc are also involved in litigation challenging Georgia’s restrictive voting laws.
Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Honored with National Monuments
The legacies of Emmett Till, along with his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, will be honored with national monuments. This commemoration comes on what would have been Emmett’s 82nd birthday, according to Ebony Entertainment.
Following his brutal murder, EBONY’s sister publication JET published photos of Till’s mutilated body, which shook the nation and brought much-needed attention to the plight of Black Americans in the United States. Last year, legislation was passed by Congress to award Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley with posthumous Congressional Gold Medals.
On July 25, President Joe Biden plans to sign a proclamation establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in both Illinois and Mississippi across three separate sites.
As shared with EBONY, the sites will include Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, Chicago, Mississippi’s Graball Landing and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. Each of these locations hold deep significance in the understanding of Emmett Till’s story.
Thousands mourned Emmett’s murder in 1955 in Bronzeville, the historically Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Till’s mutilated body was pulled from Graball Landing’s Tallahatchie River. Lastly, the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi is the site where his murderers were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury.
A White House Official shared that the designation of these monuments “reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance civil rights and commitment to protecting places that help tell a more complete story of our nation’s history.”
PBS’s Special: Murder of Emmett Till (April 2023)
In August 1955, a 14-year-old Black boy allegedly flirted with a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head.
Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including their tale of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.
Commissioner Tommy Calvert Attends Historic Juneteenth Event
Commissioner Tommy Calvert was invited to the White House by President Biden for the first White House Juneteenth Celebration on June 13, 2023.
Vice President Harris started the program by recognizing that the Black leaders invited to the celebration helped make the Juneteenth holiday possible.
“Juneteenth is the holiday that most speaks to the promise of America for freedom for all,” Calvert said. “I have done my best to improve our elections system, break up the good old boy system of contracting in San Antonio for minority businesses, and expand human rights for all globally. I want to thank the President for recognizing my contributions to freedom and I appreciated sharing Juneteenth with him and other top Black leaders from around America.”
The grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee (96), had the crowd roaring when she proclaimed, “If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love and it is up to you to do it. We must get together and get rid of the disparities—the joblessness, the homelessness, the healthcare that some people can get and others can’t, and the climate change that we are responsible for…And if we don’t do something about it, we’re all going to hell in a handbasket.”
Recently, Calvert presented Bexar County’s Highest Honor to Lee at True Vision Church on June 18, 2023. At 89 years old, Lee walked 2.5 miles a day to symbolize the more than two years that elapsed before slaves in Texas and Louisiana knew they were free.
Hip-hop icon Method Man took to the podium to bridge the White House ceremony’s inclusion of June as Black Music Month.
“During Black Music Month, a concert is a fitting way to recognize Juneteenth and express this part of our shared American history,” said Method Man. “For it is through music that African Americans found community and found solace. Music has the power to uplift us, enrich our minds, and nourish our souls.”
San Antonio natives John Burns and Mike Burns helped produce the event. Their mother, Dr. Diana Burns Banks, is Commissioner Calvert’s appointee to the University Health System Board of Directors.
Please provide photo & video credits “Courtesy of Commissioner Tommy Calvert”
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