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 HarrisSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Calif.), a former prosecutor, said in a tweet. 

Harris's fellow candidate and Senate colleague Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch 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 BlasioIf the Democratic debates were pro wrestling, de Blasio is comic relief The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Mayor de Blasio, the small business killer 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 WarrenSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Mass.) joined her colleagues, calling the decision "an injustice." 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Andrew Yang: News coverage of Trump a 'microcosm' of issues facing country MORE (I-Vt.) and philanthropist Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch 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 BidenBiden evokes 1968, asks voters to imagine if Obama had been assassinated Biden blasts Trump's 'embarrassing' actions heading into G-7 summit Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates 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 ButtigiegSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates The Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates 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.