Lambda Legal Condemns Police Violence, Urges NYPD Accountability

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December 3, 2014

This blog post was co-written by Lambda Legal's Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct strategists, Staff Attorney Jael Humphrey and Beverly Tillery, Deputy Director of Education & Public Affairs for Education, Advocacy & Inclusion.

Today, less than two weeks after the announcement that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the killing of Michael Brown, a Staten Island grand jury decided that Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was shown on tape using a chokehold to restrain Eric Garner that ultimately led to Garner’s death, will not be indicted.

We are saddened and dismayed that in a span of two weeks we are issuing another statement voicing our concerns about accountability for police violence in this country. While we are not privy to all of the facts that led to the grand jury decision in the death of Eric Garner, once again, an unarmed black man lost his life at the hands of a police officer and that officer has so far been cleared of any wrongdoing. Around the country, we continue to witness similar tragedies and loss of life that have resulted from the deadly combination of racism, police profiling, excessive use of lethal force and a general disregard for the lives of black and brown people. These are defining times for the City of New York and for our country.

Some of Eric Garner’s last words were, ‘Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,’ and our community knows this feeling all too well. LGBT communities have long suffered from discrimination, harassment, and profiling from the NYPD and other police departments. LGBT people of color, at the intersections of racism and homophobia, disproportionately face police violence and policy biases. Feeling that we cannot trust our police department serves to alienate thousands of New Yorkers and makes them less likely to report crimes. It makes this city less safe for all of us.

We mourn Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and every victim of police violence by continuing to work for justice - for better policing and fairer laws. As an organization fighting for the rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV, we know that bias and prejudice can lead to injustice. We believe that these issues must be addressed in a systemic way and that regardless of one decision, all of us must be active participants in holding law enforcement agencies accountable for ending the unchecked assault on the lives of all of our communities that are marginalized and criminalized - whether on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender expression or economic status.

Lambda Legal has a long history of standing up against misconduct by police and other government officials. We will continue to work with our sister LGBT organizations and other civil rights organizations to fight to make sure that police are properly protecting and serving all the public, including LGBT people and people living with HIV.

Read the press release.