Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Tale of Two Prosecutors

A Statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, SR.

The violent death of Eric Garner in New York City five years ago was captured on a cellphone camera for all the world to see. As a New York City police officer pulled him to the sidewalk and applied an illegal chokehold, Garner’s last words were also recorded and quickly became a nationwide rallying cry for police reform.

“I can’t breathe,” he gasped. “I can’t breathe.”

Garner’s alleged offense? He was suspected of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Now comes word that U.S. Attorney General William Barr has made the dubious decision not to bring federal civil rights charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo. In letting the officer walk free and clear, Barr exercised his prosecutorial discretion – a legal prerogative American prosecutors exercise every day across the country with little public fanfare.

But when Cook County States’ Attorney Kim Foxx, a progressive, African American female prosecutor, applied the same legal logic – prosecutorial discretion – to drop charges in the over-hyped, overcharged nonviolent Jussie Smollett case, Chicago turned upside down.

Foxx’s decision led the evening news for weeks. It dominated the front pages of Chicago daily newspapers. National media outlets also got in on the hype. It was a media frenzy about a case in which no one was killed or even injured, and for which Smollett would not have served jail time. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) held protests outside of Foxx’s office, demanding she resign for doing something prosecutors do every day.

To be fair and balanced, FOP members should be packing their bags at this very moment, headed for Washington to hold a similar protest outside the office of Attorney General William Barr.


Media Contact: Don Terry dterry@rainbowpush.org

Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.

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