“Fire Pantaleo! Fire Pantaleo!”
Just before chants of "Fire Pantaleo" echoed across the plaza outside City Hall, Mayor de Blasio was headed for the exit. He did not stick around to hear this.
“My message to Bill de Blasio who had the authority to do something for five years and did nothing. You cannot be president; you cannot be the Democratic nominee if Daniel Pantaleo is still on the force,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Eric Garner died six-and-a-half months into de Blasio's first term as Mayor immediately challenging the city's new leader who campaigned as a champion of police reform.
“The people of this city have chosen a progressive path!” said de Blasio in a speech on election night.
When a Staten Island grand jury in 2014 declined to indict the officers involved, de Blasio spoke out. “It's a very emotional day for our city. It's a very painful day for so many New Yorkers.”
Fast forward to 2019 and there's silence from City Hall. Only a written statement from the mayor after the Justice Department announced it too would not bring any charges in Garner's death.
"Years ago, we put our faith in the federal government to act. We won’t make that mistake again," the mayor said in a statement.
But reforming the police disciplinary process, as de Blasio is proposing is hardly satisfying critics, who want Officer Daniel Pantaleo fired. He is the officer who put Garner in a chokehold. And he's still working for the NYPD.
“Mayor de Blasio for the last five years has made the conscious decision to allow the murdered of Eric Garner to remain on the police force.” said Kirsten John Foy, a civil rights activist.
De Blasio is campaigning for president again, as a police reformer. It's a tougher sell this time around, given his record in New York. And indeed the Garner case is a big part of that. Five years after his death there's nothing the mayor can point to, to argue some measure of justice was done.