Eric Garner Hearing – January 18, 2021, 10:00 AM Eastern
Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Eric Garner
- Kerry McLean, International Commission of Inquiry Steering Committee
- Rapporteur Ria Julien
- Commissioner Mr. Max Boqwana
- Commissioner Judge Peter Herbert, OBE
- Jonathan Moore, attorney for the estate of Eric Garner
- Gwen Carr (On Video), mother of Eric Garner
Kerry McLean 01:50
Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to all of you who’ve joined us for more than a dozen countries in different parts of the world. My name is Kerry McLean and I’m a member of the steering committee that organized the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the United States. I’m honored to welcome you all to the opening of the hearings for the Commission of Inquiry. It is particularly significant to open these hearings on the day that the United States commemorates the birthday, life, and legacy of civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1963, Dr. King said, “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” Almost 60 years later, we’re still facing and fighting those horrors. A project such as this Commission of Inquiry is one contribution to the struggle against police violence, a struggle which includes the organizing that we’re doing in our communities, the demonstrations in the streets, and much more. And the struggle against police violence is one key element in the overall struggle for black liberation. In June 2020, an international coalition of hundreds of organizations and individuals sent a communication to the United Nations Human Rights Council, urging that the UN convene a commission of inquiry to investigate racism and racist police violence in the United States.
That communication was sent to the UN due to the excellent organizing done by the UN Human Rights Network and the ACLU Human Rights Program, and with the support of grassroots organizations such as Mothers Against Police Brutality, and other individuals. The UN declined the request to convene a commission of inquiry, though it did task the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights with preparing a report on racism Following the decision to not convene a commission of inquiry, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild, and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers decided to convene a commission of inquiry to conduct the thorough and impartial investigation of police violence in the US that the community has demanded. The Commission of Inquiry will investigate the systemic, widespread and grave violations of the rights of Black people by law enforcement in the US and present its final report. The report will be shared with the UN High Commissioner and shared with the public.
The work of the Commission of Inquiry does not exist to supplant the work of the UN. The UN still bears the responsibility to sufficiently address racism and police violence in the US. Rather, the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the United States, hopes that its investigations and reports will complement and support the work of the High Commissioner. The Commission of Inquiry will conduct a thorough investigation into anti-Black violence perpetrated by police in the US, both historically and in recent times, with an emphasis on evaluating the most recent cases and addressing the connection of the current cases to the history of systemic racism. The Commission will make recommendations in particular on accountability measures with a view to ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability for violations and abuses and to protecting people against further abuses. And the Commission will present a report to the UN High Commissioner, other relevant international bodies, and to the general public by April of 2021.
We’ve assembled a team of 12 experts, none of whom are from the United States, to conduct the investigations in an independent and impartial manner. Finally, I’ll take a quick moment to introduce the other members of the steering committee, as well as the rapporteur and commissioners for today’s hearings. You can read everyone’s bios and get other information about the Commission of Inquiry on our website, www.inquirycommission.org. First, the chair of our steering committee, Lennox Hinds, next steering committee member, Nana Gyamfi, who is the president of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, Jeanne Mirer, who is the president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Pooja Gehi, the former executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, Anne Else, Beth Lyons, Emel McDowell, Claire Gilchrist and Richard Harvey. Our rapporteur for today is Ria Julien. And last but not least, the two commissioners who will preside over today’s hearings are Mr. Max Boqwana of South Africa, and Judge Peter Herbert of the United Kingdom. Thank you all. I’ll now give the floor to today’s rapporteur, Ria Julien.
Ria Julien 06:32
Morning, and thank you for being here. We now begin in the case of Eric Garner. As you heard, my name is Ria Julien, and I’m the rapporteur for this hearing. And the commissioners, you’ve heard, are Max Boqwana of South Africa and Peter Herbert of Kenya. And the witnesses for this hearing this morning. The first witness is attorney for Mr. Garner, Jonathan Moore, a partner at Beldock, Levine and Hoffman. And just by way of housekeeping, there will be 50 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify followed by a period of questions from commissioners. I will call time at the 30 minute mark and the 45 minute mark. I understand there’s also going to be a video play today. And please do excuse my interruptions, commissioners Boqwana and Herbert. I now present you the first witness. Attorney Jonathan Moore.
Jonathan Moore 07:31
Thank you very much, Ria and welcome. Thank you very much for inviting me to give testimony here today. My name is Jonathan Moore. I’m a civil rights attorney. I’ve been practicing law for 44 years about a longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild, as well as the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. My practice is centered in in New York. The focus of my practice over the these many years has really been about police violence against people of color. And I represented the estate of Eric Garner back in 2014, after he was brutally killed by New York City police officers through the use of a chokehold. And that matter, actually, because there was a video, which demonstrated how awful the conduct was, we believe that the case was resolved without even having to file a complaint. And the family was paid $6.9 million for what happened. But that really only began the story and didn’t really — that wasn’t the end of the story of what happened to Eric Garner, because the struggle has continued for many years to seek discipline against the officers who were responsible for Eric Garner’s death. There was a proceeding that took five years against one officer, Officer Pantaleo, that resulted in his dismissal from the force. That proceeding, as I said, was only against one of the officers involved in it. The fact that it was only against one of the officers is very telling. because there were many officers involved. The medical examiner determined that the death of Eric Garner was a combination of neck and chest compression. In other words, there was somebody who had his arm around his neck, they were on top of him, on his back, he was face first on the ground. So that could only have been accomplished by not just one but several officers being on top of him. And if you look at the video, which I’m sure people have seen many times, you see, you see that, in fact, is what happened. None of those other officers were ever even brought up on disciplinary charges. The only officer who was who was charged with was Pantaleo. And that struggle continues. I know you’ll hear a video from Mr. Garner’s mother Gwen Carr, who has been struggling mightily for these now almost seven years, six and a half years to really hold all those responsible for her son’s death accountable. What the death of Eric Garner represented was not just that, was not an aberration. It was a one long series of police killings of people of color, throughout the 80s and 90s. And into this current century. I first got involved in New York with police in use of deadly force on people of color in the Michael Stewart case. Many people may remember back in 1983, Michael Stewart was a young graffiti artist who was killed by — an African American graffiti artist — who was killed by officers who were assigned to the Transit Authority police department. That case began, unfortunately, a long series of cases over the years, including Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, these are just some of the many cases where the police have used excessive force against people of color, without justification. So the question is the question you have to ask yourself is, is the police department in the city New York, do they engage in discrimination against people of color? And I have to I would have to say to you, quite unequivocably that the answer has to be yes. And I’m going to switch gears slightly, because one of the other cases I was involved in over the years here in New York City was the issue around stop and frisk. And it ties to the Eric Garner case. The stop and frisk case was a class action brought by residents of the city of New York alleging that the police engaging in street encounters with mostly people of color, engaged in racial profiling. Now, that’s a claim that’s often made, but rarely approved. But in 2013, we actually had a 10 week trial in federal court where we ended up with a judgment — not a settlement, but a judgment against the New York Police Department, where the court found that as a matter of policy and practice, over a number of years, the police department had engaged in a policy of racial profiling. Why is that relevant to Eric Garner’s case? Because the encounter with Eric Garner began as a run of the mill ordinary street encounter. A stop, possibly question and frisk, that turned bad, and illustrates the true damage, the true harm that comes from allowing a police department to make allowing officers to make decisions based upon improper motivations. In fact, the police in the Eric Garner case under the then-existing law, and current law, in the US, in New York State, had no justification for stopping or searching or trying to arrest Eric Garner, because he was there was no credible report that he engaged in a felony or a common law, or a penal law misdemeanor, as defined by the laws of the state of New York. So you know, you think oh, stop and frisk, it’s a short encounter on the street only happens, you know, how intrusive could it be? Well, we see in the Eric Garner case, how intrusive it could be, and then multiply that by the fact that in our period of time, and we were looking at stop and frisk, which was about from about 2008 to 2012, there were 4 million documented stops and frisks on the streets of New York, 90% of which were directed at people of color, and 90% of which led to no further investigative activity. In other words, in common parlance, the police were wrong 90% of the time. And we’re using race as the motivating factor to make stops. And that is exactly what the court found. And that is why, and that explains, I believe, the context of the Eric Garner case. I’m happy to take any questions about it at this point, or I’m not sure if that’s the format you want to follow.
Ria Julien 15:47
I would turn it over, we still have a certain amount of time i f you’d like to continue to elaborate, we’ve provided about half an hour.
Jonathan Moore 16:02
Okay, I can take a few more minutes. One of the one of the most difficult issues with respect to these cases, and this struggle for racial equality and for — to eliminate racism from police activity, is how do you remedy it? Now, as I said back in 2013, we tried the case for 10 weeks based on evidence from community members, put on evidence from experts and victims. And the court found that the police had indeed engage in racial profiling, in violation of both the 4th and 14th amendments to the US Constitution. The 4th Amendment, protecting people from illegal searches and seizures and the 14th Amendment, protecting individuals from racial discrimination. So we have now been engaged over the last, really beginning in November of 2014, up into the present, and trying to figure out how to remedy the issues that came up in that case, and it’s been very, it’s been very arduous. It’s been like pulling teeth. And I have to say, after almost over six years, I’m not sure how far we’ve gotten, or whether we’ve really changed or are beginning to put mechanisms in place that would change the culture of the police department. Although the number of stops has gone down over that period of time, the percentage of people being stopped is still the same in terms of the racial breakdown, which suggests that officers are still making decisions based on race more than any other factor.
The complaints that had been made of racial profiling during that period of somewhere, and I think in the range of 3000 complaints, there have been zero substantiated complaints by the police department, which, you know, leads you to wonder who’s doing it, you know, what kind of investigation they’re doing, all of which we bring to the court’s attention, you know, periodically and try to urge the court to do a better job. And it’s very difficult to see how you can really effect this change through the courts, it’s important to bring these cases, it’s important to point out misconduct when it occurs. But what we’ve come to understand and to learn over this period of time is that the only way you’re really going to change the police department in a city like New York, is through community pressure, community involvement. And there are organizations in the city of New York who have worked very long and hard to try to push issues of reform within the police department with some success in large part to the city council getting certain local laws passed that that are designed to ensure more accountability in the police and what they do.
And so I think that’s a very important reality to acknowledge in these cases, that it’s not just a lawsuit that changes things. It’s it’s really the community rising up and saying enough is enough. And they certainly did that over the last summer with George Floyd case and certainly demonstrated that there is a lot of anger there in the community and the need for change. And there has been some change. But I think there’s a slogan from the National Lawyers Guild, I remember over the many years, that justice is a constant struggle. And as much as we continue to litigate and to advocate for significant change in policing in the city of New York, which I can speak to, we realize how much how much further we have to go. So although I think litigation is an important aspect of what we do, it’s only, it’s in many ways, it’s only the start, you know, it’s only a part of the process of really trying to develop meaningful change. One of the things that came out of, one of the changes that came out of our stop and frisk litigation was the police department began to use body cameras, and instituted system-wide the use of body-worn cameras, there’s a lot of controversy over that, in terms of its effectiveness, but overall, we judge it to be a positive development. There has certainly been more scrutiny of all the processes and all the procedures and all the training and, you know, racial sensitivity training that’s been introduced within the police departments. Those are all very good. On paper, again, on paper,. The key has for us has been to try to push to make sure that these reforms at the institute are not just paper reform, but are meaningful reforms. And that is a very difficult struggle that we face, ongoing in terms of these issues. And with that, I think I’ll stop.
Ria Julien 21:58
Thank you, Mr. Moore. I believe we now have a video that is available that will be played. And this is a video by one of it by the mother of Eric Garner. We have some pre recorded comments from Gwen Carr, who wanted to be with us today but had other commitments this morning, you know during the morning of MLK Day. So you will now be viewing that video.
Gwen Carr (On Video) 22:35
Good evening, everyone. Good evening everyone. It is good to see you all out to support this great, this great foundation. And I want to say thank you to Miss Kim Handy-Jones for putting together this great, it’s just it’s wonderful to see all of you, different colors, different creeds, different walks of life, come together. We don’t see that every day. And if we see more of this, we can get more we can get, more things to get. My name is Gwen Carr. I’m the mother of Eric Garner. You all heard the story of Eric Garner. He said I can’t breathe 11 times he said I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.
But did this concern police officers? They decided to take his life. But you know, I say it is too late for my son. They killed him. It is no justice for him. But we must still stand for justice. We must get justice for those who come behind him. And then the future when they hear the name Eric Garner, I want them to say, because of his death, that the ones who came behind him got justice. His death was not in vain. I want them to say that his mother stood up for him, when she didn’t even know what was going to happen to her. And at this point, it does not matter. You took my son. What else can you take from me? A lot of the mothers, you don’t even know. There’s tens of thousands of us out here. Some of us are high-profile, as they call it. But each case should be high profile. One case is as bad as the next. Some of the mothers, they can’t get out of bed. Some is on medication, some is losing their mind. But I thank God that He lt me keep my mind and let me keep on with it, and let me advocate for my son as well as yours and yours and yours.. Until the day I die, this is what I’m going to do. We know that the system, they kill us twice.
First, the police, they murder in broad daylight, they murder us in the night when they don’t think anyone’s looking, then they murder us in the newspaper, they bring out any little thing that they think that can criminalize us. What about those police officers who murdered our sons? What about their records? It is never, never brought up unless we go, I had to go, we got it through the WikiLeaks as we call it. A lot of stuff, I found out there, because once I found out that you can get information from different sources, I was right there. So I just want to thank each and every one of you, each and every one of the mothers. I have met so many mothers around the nation who I have never met before, so many people who have supported me, and now that you supported me, I support you. Thank you so much.
Ria Julien 26:48
Thank you, I’d like to turn it over now to the commissioners for question period.
Max Boqwana 26:55
Ria, thank you very much. I want to ask Peter, maybe to kick start.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 27:03
Thank you, can I thank all the participants who I see, and the other commissioners and go straight into one thing that occurred to me, Jonathan, when you’re dealing with an individual case, this appears to be not limited to a United States problem. But everywhere people of African descent, live, or work or try to survive, whether it be France, whether it be Australia, whether it be Brazil, the same form of brutality with this. And my question to you is, is it really possible to look at the court or the justice system in isolation without looking at the social status of African people, not only in the diaspora, but as they are in the United States, to form a solution?
Jonathan Moore 27:59
Well, I would, I think you make a good point, because I think, before you get to the solution, you have to understand what the problem is. And clearly, the issue of racial violence against people of African descent is not just isolated to this country or to any one country. It’s, it’s a worldwide issue, and has to be seen that way. And so if you’re going to come up, attempt to kind of come up with remedies or solutions to that issue, I think you have to address it on a more than just, you know, one country basis. I think there are, hopefully, over the next few years, we can strengthen some of the International mechanisms to try to deal with this. I think the problem, I think most people would say is that where’s the forum to raise these issues internationally? Other than of course, a forum like this, which I think is wonderful, in terms of educating people, but where are the international forums where this can be raised and addressed in a meaningful way? So I agree with your premise. I think we have a lot of work to do to get to the point where we can, you know, really have a meaningful, multinational approach to this.
Max Boqwana 29:32
I think Jonathan, and just maybe to follow up on Peter’s question, and, and and possible, one of the responses and I would like to get your comment on that. As Peter is saying, the Africans and the Black people everywhere else in the world come from a history of being non human. That’s the history of slavery where people were part of the property. And you get to a place like the United States of America, where the entire political framework of the country is also based on lies. That here is a country that was founded by white tribes. And it had no people. So even today, anybody therefore, that is not white is being seen as an outsider. And it’s in that context that the police are dealing with both outsiders, and I dare say non humans. Should we not put that in the entire education system of the country, because I think inasmuch as we’re talking about police brutality, I think in other sectors of society, there’s a similar discrimination against the people of color. Do you think that education is is important in this regard? And what you call sensitivity training? Shouldn’t that be part of the law schools as well?
Jonathan Moore 31:08
Well, you know, your, what you say, we reminds me of, I think, the lesson that we all learn from the history of South Africa, which is before you can have accountability, you have to have truth. And the truth of what has happened, what happened to the folks of African descent in this country is still not told in its fullest extent, in our public education system is still not, it’s not taught in colleges and universities and law schools, when you take a class on civil rights, you don’t spend it, you know, I teach a class of civil rights. And I spend a lot of time talking about the underlying causes of why there are civil rights laws, rather than just this is the law, this is how you, you know, enforce it, or whatever. It has to be some context that people have to understand the context in which people whose lives have been ruined by a system of discrimination and racism. So I very much agree with you and, acknowledging that there has to be a better job of talking about the truth. One of the things that we were able to do in the context of stop and frisk litigation and what we tried to do over the years in all these cases of racial violence is, is not just talk about that incident, talk about it in the context of a series of incidents that begin to paint a more accurate picture of what life is like for people. And so I very much agree with you on that point.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 32:49
Can I just ask one very quick question. Thank you very much, Max. If there was one reform that you think would deliver change tomorrow, for people of African descent, at least in the United States, what would that be? What’s that fundamental change? But we’re going to have to grapple with this as commissioners, and we’d like your view.
Jonathan Moore 33:13
So I think that, you know, I think you would, sort of at a popular level you would hear in the United States, people saying defund the police. I think that as a slogan that has a lot of power. I think in reality, it’s not likely to lead to a meaningful reform, because people obviously, in every society see a need for some kind of law enforcement to to order people’s lives when it gets out of control. The problem is that the police have become an instrument of state control of mostly people of color and poor people as well. And so I think what we need to do is reimagine how the police perform their responsibilities. And one example I could give you is in terms of the way they deal with so called people with emotional difficulties or mental health histories.
There’s no, no good reason why the police should be the first line of response, when somebody is having a mental health crisis. You need, you need people who are trained to deal with folks who are going through a mental health crisis, not people who are simply trained to use force. And so I think that’s a — that is, that kind of change, I think is is certainly on the horizon here in the United States. And I think people have a general understanding that that makes sense. So I think it I think we have to go back, and we have to, we have to look at and rethink how what the how the police should function in our society. And then, and then, you know, build it up again in a way that one perhaps has a more limited role for the police compared to what they’ve been doing for the last many years, and one that’s more understanding and sympathetic to the real needs of people.
Max Boqwana 35:23
Gentlemen, I just want to throw, I just wanna throw two possibilities. One, to what extent are the police themselves when they are dealing with, in particular, the people of color that become their victims, is itself an expression of trauma on their part, because they have the number of other things that they are they are facing? You know, the police are involved in all manner of terrible situations, which might be traumatic, and its tendency of the victims of trauma is to is to inflict pain to somebody that looks or appears weaker. And in this instance, in the context of the United States, in particular, the weaker people are the people of color, to what extent is that an expression of that?
And should we not use social workers, for instance, to be deployed or psychologists to be deployed in every police station to be able to deal with that, so that’s one. But the second one, which has been experienced in my own country, I mean, I, I’ve been a victim of police brutality so many times to the extent that every time, even today, when I see a police van, the first reaction is to try and find the nearest place to hide. But but one of the methods was to look at the civilian accountability participation, to make sure that there is a community participation in terms of the assessment of crime in that particular area, in terms of the the response and the reporting of the behavior of, of the police in that. So in a sense, the police don’t see themselves as the enemies of the people, but as part of the community,
Jonathan Moore 37:33
Well, there’s a lot a lot to unpack there in those questions. But it makes me think that the way to approach it is to, for me at this point is to say, when you’re imagining, what a police department should look like I think you have to do a number of things. One, there has to be true community involvement, and how the police deploy their forces, how they, they direct the resources they have toward the community. It has to — it can’t be just from the top down, it has to be the community, interacting with the police department, and say this is a problem here. We think you should look at that and quit just, you know, stopping every young black kid on the street on the way home from school. I think there has to be meaningful discipline within the police department. If you look at the Eric Garner case, that represents an absence, of a total failure, of the disciplinary process in the sense that all the that of the of the five or six officers who were involved in the conduct that led to Mr. Garner’s death, five of them, were not even brought up on disciplinary charges, the one that was was allowed to be in a police force for five years at full pay before he was actually terminated.
And and also, by the way, the state government and the federal government passed on bringing any kind of criminal prosecution against them. So you have absolute failure of the disciplinary system, and and part of the reason why it’s a failure within police departments is that the community has no role in being involved in discipline, it’s left up to the department in any decision. You know, they have all these civilian review boards and whatever, they come up with these recommendations. But it still goes back to the police department, the police commissioner, at least in New York, for the decision and that’s where you have the problem, because that’s where they say, Well, I’m not going to you know, I don’t want to be on the on the wrong side of the police unions. I’m gonna, I’m not gonna enforce the recommended discipline, and so you have in many cases where civilian authority recommends discipline, the police department says no. That suggests also that one of the problems is that you have police unions who have gained too much power within in the context of how the police department functions.
And, and I say this more from New York, I mean, New York City is a huge police department, over 35,000 sworn officers, and the police union has amazing power to both in terms of, you know, the contract provisions, and also just, you know, in terms of how they stir up the public against people who complain about police misconduct. So I think that has to be addressed. So discipline, I think there has to be community involvement, I think there has to be, you really have to check the power of the unions in a way. And I know that, you know, I’m sure there are many trade unionists who are a part of these different organizations who are involved too, and I don’t mean to, I’m not trying to bash a union. But I do think that within the context of police-community relations, police unions have way too much power and way too much sway over police departments. And I think that has to be looked at.
So those are some of the suggestions I would offer as some that might be lead to some meaningful change. You have to, the problem is you have to change the culture of the police department. And that can’t happen overnight. That can’t happen with a training, if you’re going to have training, that has to be recurring training, you can’t just train an officer, when they’re in the academy and say, Okay, you’ve been trained on how to deal with street encounters, or when when you can use force and not use force, these are all these, these things require constant training. And that’s certainly another recommendation, I would say that the training has to be ongoing. When you give a a one day training on, you know, implicit bias in policing, which may be interesting and meaningful, and you don’t repeat it for the officer, that’s the only time they go through it in their 25-year career, it becomes meaningless, you know, the same with training officers on how to kind of deal with street encounters, you know, if you don’t, if you don’t constantly retrain, and measure their training by giving them exams to see if they’re, you know, if they pass it, you know, then you don’t really have a training system. That doesn’t work.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 42:23
Thank you. I just wanted to pick up on on two points. And this is the external view of the United States from the rest-of-the-world view, I suppose, is that you appear to have a highly militarized police force. And if you have highly militarized police, wherever they can be, Brazil, the United States, or even South Africa, the tendency is that human beings will use the maximum force that they have available to them, and therefore… Positional asphyxia is commonplace, and it’s well known that it will kill and, and therefore I wonder to what extent the militarization of police forces in all of them, I think there’s some 15,000 of them, as to what extent do you think play a role and how can that be rectified?
Ria Julien 43:15
For a moment, I just need to call time at 45 minutes there, five minutes remaining.
Jonathan Moore 44:07
Okay. I think that the issue of the militarization of the policem and it is, I think you’re right to point that out as a real issue in this country. I mean, you know, they are, we invade a country and use all this military armor and, and then when we leave we, we bring it all back and give it to the police departments. It’s a very simplified version of it, but there has been an emphasis on, an overemphasis on armament and on the use of force and on, you know, the militarization of police departments and as you say, if you have the if you have these pepper guns and plastic bullets on them, you’re going to use it. And so I agree with you that there really has to be a limit on that.
Max Boqwana 45:20
Now with what Peter has said, maybe you can comment, you can comment on it. In actual fact, we had a situation here, where we had what was called the police force, and had to be deliberate in the philosophy of the new constitutional Police Service, that it must be regarded as police service, rather than police force. And that, as you are saying, on a regular basis that we’re dealing with police service with a responsibility is to serve the community rather than to mete out force. But secondly, we were very clear about the issue of law and order. And to say, it’s not really about law and order, but it’s about safety and security, which is as a different philosophical outlook. And when you start saying to the, to these members, you are joining a police service, where the responsibility is to ensure safety and security? And you begin to deal with that culture. What would be your comment on that?
Jonathan Moore 46:38
Well, I think that is a real issue. I mean, I think the militarization of the police has gone on basically unchecked for too many years. I think that’s tied to the issue of discipline, though, because, for me, it is a very practical level, because if you have ultimate decisions on discipline being made by the police themselves, by the top law enforcement officer and the police department commissioner, whatever, then you really have no meaningful discipline. You can only have a disciplinary system that has some kind of community control or community involvement in it. And because, you know, as a, you determine in the United States is that, you know, the blue wall of silence, officers protect each other. They don’t, they don’t come forward. One of the, one of the most recent developments that have been talked about in the US, is the issue of trying to encourage officers to come forward to discourage other officers from using — from violating people’s rights. It’s called ethical policing. It’s something that’s catching on a lot of different police departments. And it’s a way of saying, we’re talking about an early intervention system. It’s because you’re right there in the incident, and you have officers who are trained to say, to another officer, don’t do this, because you may lose your job, and I may lose my job, because I’m allowing you to do it. And if I, if I see something happening, I don’t intervene, I could lose my job as well. And so that’s, that’s a, you know, a specific remedy that a lot of people been talking about as a good development. So, you know, I wish there was more time to go through all the different specifics, but those are some of them, I think that could lead to more meaningful police reform. But, you know, the reality is, as both, that both of you have said is that how we police in this country is a reflection of our history, and our view of how people, which in this country is we have a horrible history of racism and, you know, beginning with slavery, and then with Jim Crow and now with the rise, the rise of white supremacy, it’s no, no mistake, it’s no, it’s no coincidence that a number of those folks who assaulted the Capitol building on January 6, a couple of weeks ago, were former military and law enforcement officers or even current law enforcement officers. That’s not surprising to us, those of us who have been working in this area for many years.
Max Boqwana 49:43
Just the last question on my part. To what extent of what will be the proportion of similar violence against white civilians as compared to the to the people of color, so do we mean that there is not similar violence that is meted out to the white civilians?
Jonathan Moore 50:10
Yeah, the best example I can give you of that is again that the stop and frisk case, which is — in the stop and frisk case, of the 4 million people who were stopped in the period we were looking at, 90% were Black or Hispanic. And in 90% of the cases, no, it led to no further police activity, no charges, no anything. Yet, even though Blacks were stopped at a higher rate than whites, the incidence of contraband on whites was a higher percentage than on Blacks. So if you really, look, you know, if you’re looking at the system, honestly, you would say, why are you focusing on people of color, if there’s a higher incidence of guns found on people on white people who are stopped compared to Black? Or the other, the other example of that unfortunate example is that the incidence of violence against people stopped was higher for people of color than for folks who are white, so, and really any way that you look at it, and almost any way that you look at it, you see that the fundamental problem here is our history, and our history of racism in this country. Anyway, which is, you know, it all always comes back to that, in my judgment, and until we begin to understand that truth, we can never move beyond what we have now to a true system of accountability.
Ria Julien 51:53
Thank you. Mr. Moore. This concludes the hearing in the case of Eric Garner. We will now have a short break. Hearings will resume on the hour with the case of Freddie Gray.