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 HarrisTrump to hold campaign rally in Florida later this month Overnight Health Care: Warren promises gradual move to 'Medicare for All' | Rivals dismiss Warren plan for first 100 days | White House unveils rules on disclosing hospital prices | Planned Parenthood wins case against anti-abortion group Harris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires MORE (D-Calif.), a former prosecutor, said in a tweet. 

Harris's fellow candidate and Senate colleague Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Health Care: Warren promises gradual move to 'Medicare for All' | Rivals dismiss Warren plan for first 100 days | White House unveils rules on disclosing hospital prices | Planned Parenthood wins case against anti-abortion group Election 2020: Why I'm watching Amy and Andy Democratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream 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 BlasioDeval Patrick enters 2020 race De Blasio slams Bloomberg run for president: He 'epitomizes the status quo' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington braces for public impeachment hearings 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 WarrenBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states Obama cautions 2020 hopefuls against going too far left What are Democrats going to do once Donald Trump leaves office? MORE (D-Mass.) joined her colleagues, calling the decision "an injustice." 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states Obama cautions 2020 hopefuls against going too far left What are Democrats going to do once Donald Trump leaves office? MORE (I-Vt.) and philanthropist Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerOcasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Bloomberg's path to the convention — and beyond Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy 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 BidenBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Obama cautions 2020 hopefuls against going too far left 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 ButtigiegBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states Hill editor-in-chief: Buttigieg could benefit if impeachment reaches Senate Trump to hold campaign rally in Florida later this month 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.