City Beat

Mayor Johnson: Deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown ‘not isolated incidents’

Mayor Kevin Johnson has helped host a series of community forums on the fallout from Ferguson.
Mayor Kevin Johnson has helped host a series of community forums on the fallout from Ferguson. aseng@sacbee.com

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson issued a statement Wednesday following a grand jury’s decision to not indict New York City Police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July chokehold death of Eric Garner.

“I offer my sympathy and prayers to the Garner family. It’s clear that the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown are not isolated incidents. Similar tragedies have taken place in small and large cities, north, south, east and west for decades. Over time, our nation’s leaders have had the chance but have failed to bring communities together to deal with the greater issues of race, poverty and the growing economic and cultural divide reflected in our neighborhoods today. This is our chance to make this right. There’s nothing wrong with expressing concerns as long it is done peacefully and with purpose. We need a continued dialogue that doesn’t stop once the news coverage has stopped and I’ll settle for nothing less than Sacramento leading this discussion.”

The grand jury’s decision has led to protests in New York.

Last week, Johnson received national attention for his remarks in the wake of a Missouri grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Brown. Johnson said it was “just a sad day for America, in my opinion, when you think about injustice and all the things that have happened over the history of time. This one just doesn't feel right.”

The mayor’s remarks upset members of the city police union. The union’s president, Dustin Smith, said the comments were a “slap in the face to law enforcement throughout the nation.” Smith and Johnson later met in a session both sides said was productive.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.

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