Protests in US over Chokehold Death Case
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Protests have been held in US cities after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the videotaped chokehold death of an unarmed black man who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
In New York City, angry crowds gathered on Wednesday in Manhattan and Staten Island, near the site where Eric Garner was killed on July 17, Al Jazeera reported.
Garner's father Ben sought to keep demonstrations non-violent, telling one angry bystander: "Let's keep the peace, we all are hurting."
The decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo threatened to add to the tensions that have simmered in the city since Garner's death - a case that sparked outrage and drew comparisons to the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri.
As with Brown's death in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, the Garner case sparked accusations of racist policing and calls for federal prosecutors to intervene.
Immediately after the announcement of the grand jury's decision, protesters gathered in Staten Island, expressing dismay over what they alleged was a lack of justice.
"I think the justice system keeps protecting white people," Robert Copeland, 32, told Al Jazeera. "This is the most blatant racism I've ever seen since I've been alive.
"Several black people have been killed this year and each of their killers got away scot-free. That sends a loud message to black people."
President Barack Obama said the grand jury decision underscores the need to strengthen the trust and accountability between communities and law enforcement.
"When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem, and it's my job as president to help solve it," he said.
The US Justice Department will conduct a federal investigation into Garner's death, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday evening.
The developments in the Garner case come just a week after a grand jury in St Louis decided not to indict the white police officer who shot Brown, which prompted violent protests.
Unlike in Ferguson, demonstrations in New York have remained peaceful.