After an emotional week, I addressed the tragedy of Eric Garner's death at a meeting of the full City Council. I told them I was sickened by the cavalier attitudes of the police and EMS workers, and frightened that not one of them paused to rethink their actions. Below is the text of my remarks.
"As I watch the constant streaming of the horrific video of Brother Eric Garner’s encounter with NYPD, I am unable to turn away from this compelling indictment of man’s inhumanity to man with images of blatant indifference played over and over.Did they not hear what the world heard, the constrained cries of "I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe" over and over until there wasn’t anymore.
These images are etched in my mind, denying me peace of mind.
Our community is in mourning not only for the loss of the life of Eric Garner but also because once again we are reminded of how little value our lives have. Seemingly the value of three packs of unlicensed cigarettes out weights the value of a life.
What is going on?
We cannot allow the senseless death of Eric Garner Jr. to evolve into business as usual and this cannot be the human cost of doing business with the City. We cannot allow the devaluation of members of our community to devolve to the extent that they become collateral damage in a police misadventure.
Our community mourns. It demands justice. This cannot be business as usual. This cannot be whitewashed. This cannot be given short shrift. This ends today."
I want to thank my Council Speaker, the Public Advocate and my fellow council members for their outpouring of support in the last week, for their visits to Staten Island, for their kind words and for their warm hugs.
As my colleague Vanessa Gibson, who stood by me in the last week through rallies and vigils, said to the Council, "This is not just about a tragedy but about long-term reform. We must not move back. We must move forward."
As we continue to mourn the death of Eric Garner, I ask for you to keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. I also want to commend the community for coming together and peacefully calling for justice. Together, we will.