The death of Eric Garner left a personal impression on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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De Blasio, speaking at a news conference Wednesday after a grand jury’s decision not to indict officers in the July choke hold death of Garner, said the case made him think about his 17-year-old son, Dante, who is biracial.
“Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years, about the dangers he may face,” de Blasio said. “A good young man, a law-abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face – we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”
De Blasio called the case a “national moment of grief, a national moment of pain.”
“We’re not just dealing with a problem in 2014, we’re not dealing with years of racism leading up to it, or decades of racism – we are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day,” he said. “That is how profound the crisis is. And that is how fundamental the task at hand is, to turn from that history and to make a change that is profound and lasting.”
He also evoked Martin Luther King Jr., recalling a statement by the civil rights icon: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The grand jury’s decision resulted in protests in New York City and other cities across the country.
The Justice Department will launch a civil rights investigation into Garner’s death.
Wednesday’s decision follows a similar finding by a grand jury in Missouri in the case of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black man who was shot in a confrontation with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.