Following the recent protests behind the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, many have been calling for a complete overhaul of policing practices across the country as well as defunding police departments. The New York State Assembly passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.
The bill is named after Eric Garner, who was killed in 2014 after New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold during an arrest in Staten Island. Garner was allegedly selling individual cigarettes in front of a grocery store. In a video recording of the incident, Garner is seen crying out “I can’t breathe” almost a dozen times before passing out.
The video went viral on social media generating widespread national attention. Since then, politicians in the state have been working at pushing a bill to make use of the chokehold by law enforcement illegal in the state of New York.
The bill was overwhelmingly supported by New York Assembly members in a 140-3 vote. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already promised to sign the new legislation once it arrives at his desk.
“We’re going to make sure next time this happens in New York State, police officers will be going to jail,” said Assembly Member Walter Mosely, who sponsored the bill, to Patch. “They are here to enforce the law, not to be above it.”
In addition to the chokehold bill, several other pieces of legislation were also passed surrounding police reform including a bill that will create a civil penalty for the biased misuse of emergency workers including racially-biased 911 calls.
“New York should have passed this a long time ago,” Rev. Al Sharpton said at a Foley Square press conference last week according to Patch. “Maybe the police would not have thought they could have gotten away with it with Floyd if they saw the signal in New York.”