Image copyright New York Daily News Image caption Harris and the DNC have vowed to dismantle 'systemic racism'
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has vowed to dismantle 'systemic racism', following an acquittal for the white police officer involved in the death of a black Staten Island man.
The US Senate candidate told reporters at the DNC’s winter meeting that her opponents for the party’s nomination – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – should join her in calling for the officer’s reinstatement.
The officer was found not guilty on Thursday of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the death of Eric Garner, who gasped “I can’t breathe” 18 times in July 2014.
Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed it was investigating Mr Garner’s death, as reported by the New York Daily News.
Police officer Daniel Pantaleo had been accused of placing Mr Garner, 43, in a chokehold during an arrest for selling illegal, untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island.
On Thursday, Brooklyn Judge Philip Guarascio cleared Pantaleo on all counts and the verdict caused protest outside the courthouse, with some chanting “I can’t breathe”, the New York Times reported.
Ms Harris, who is also New York’s attorney general, said that her campaign “gathered a great group of progressive leaders” to sign the pledge to “abolish” racial bias in policing, on her personal web site.
Image copyright New York Daily News Image caption A protest led by Mr Garner’s daughter was held outside the courthouse
“Together, we will work to abolish systemic racism in our criminal justice system,” Ms Harris said in a statement.
She added: “Our administration will ensure the following: that every police officer engages in de-escalation and crisis intervention training; that policing decisions be based upon science and data; and that the NYCLU (NYC Commission on Human Rights) is able to inspect all NYPD facilities, all of them, without the need for court-ordered gag orders.
“Our cause is as righteous as the cause of justice for Eric Garner. This fight cannot be won by one person or one committee, and we have to be a strong force.
“Without the support of progressive and civil rights leaders, I would not be making this commitment.”
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said the verdict gave an opportunity for the party “to end the despair that we have all shared as we watched the pain of young men and women living under the weight of institutional racism, and the injustice of these unjust verdicts”.
He added: “We must evolve and we must evolve together. We can create new protections and shift the balance of power away from a system that unfairly punishes and punishes and punishes, especially black and brown men and women.
“The fight has been fought, it is time to win.”
Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that the Garner family had “lost a loved one who did nothing wrong, they lost a father, and they’ve got the worst case of criticism that you can imagine”.