2020 Democrats condemn decision not to charge officer in Eric Garner's death

2020 Democrats condemn decision not to charge officer in Eric Garner's death
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A number of Democratic presidential hopefuls have come out to publicly condemn federal prosecutors' decision not to charge New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the 2014 death of Eric Garner.

The 2020 candidates expressed sympathy for the Garner family and highlighted the underlying the issue of criminal justice reform in the U.S.

"This is a miscarriage of justice. Our criminal justice system should be rooted in accountability. My heart breaks for the Garner family," Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisConway: Trump is 'toying with everybody' by attacking Bloomberg for stop-and-frisk comments The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Beleaguered Biden turns to must-win South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.), a former prosecutor, said in a tweet. 

Harris's fellow candidate and Senate colleague Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSpeculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Conway: Trump is 'toying with everybody' by attacking Bloomberg for stop-and-frisk comments Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises MORE (D-N.J.), also took to Twitter to slam the decision, calling it a "reminder of just how broken" the U.S. criminal justice system is. 

"This decision is wrong, unjust and painful reminder of just how broken our criminal justice system is. Eric Garner should be alive today. I pray his loved ones can find peace," he said. 

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New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioBloomberg compared civil libertarians, teachers union to NRA 'extremists' in 2013: report De Blasio endorses Sanders for president While Klobuchar surges, Warren flounders MORE, who is also running for president, slammed the Department of Justice and indicated there is now a strained relationship between the city and the department. 

"Years ago, we put our faith in the federal government to act. We won't make that mistake again," de Blasio said in a statement. "Moving forward, we will not wait for the federal government to commence our own disciplinary proceedings." 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE (D-Mass.) joined her colleagues, calling the decision "an injustice." 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE (I-Vt.) and philanthropist Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerWhere the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Klobuchar, Steyer unable to name Mexico's president in pointed interview Sunday shows - Spotlight shines on Bloomberg, stop and frisk MORE each took aim at the racial element of the decision, and called for reform. 

Wednesday will mark the fifth anniversary of Garner's death, and would have been the deadline to file certain civil rights or criminal charges against Pantaleo. The officer placed Garner, an unarmed black man, in a headlock on July 17, 2014, while attempting to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes.

The decision has drawn newfound attention to the state of the criminal justice system in the U.S., which Democratic presidential hopefuls have addressed on the campaign trail. Many also have a career background in the field. 

Harris implemented a series of criminal justice reform policies during her tenure as California attorney general, establishing a statewide body camera program. As a senator, Harris has also backed legislation to provide funding for body cameras.

Sanders has spoken about police reform on the campaign trail, and outlined his plan to deal with the issue in his broader "Racial Justice Plan." 

Booker also has advocated for criminal justice reform on and off of the campaign trail, sponsoring the First Step Act, which resulted in the release of thousands of prisoners convicted on drug-related offenses. 

He also introduced the Second Step Act, which would improve bias training for law enforcement, among a number of other reforms. 

However, some 2020 presidential candidates have faced backlash on the issue of criminal justice. 

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE has been hit by a number of Democratic primary opponents for supporting the 1994 crime bill, while South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE has been criticized for his handling of the police shooting of Eric Logan, an unarmed black man, in the city last month.

Biden and Buttigieg have yet to comment on the Justice Department's decision not to charge Pantaleo.