Sixty-five percent of New Yorkers believe a Staten Island grand jury should have indicted a white police officer in the death of Eric Garner, a black man, according to a new Siena College/New York Times poll.
The poll, which also showed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s support from the black community increasing as approval from whites diminishes, found a significant racial gap in how city residents perceive the Garner case.
“While 50 percent of white New Yorkers feel the grand jury should have indicted the officer in the Garner case,73 percent of Latino and 85 percent of black adults feel that way. Similarly, 86 percent of black and 76 percent of Latino New Yorkers feel the feds should bring civil rights charges against the officer, while white adults are evenly divided, 42-42 percent,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.
A grand jury decided not to indict the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, for placing Garner in an apparent chokehold that many say led to his death. Garner was targeted in July for selling untaxed cigarettes and critics, in the week since Mr. Pantaleo was not indicted, have grown louder about the NYPD’s approach to policing small, quality-of-life crimes. After the grand jury vote, the Department of Justice announced they would be opening an investigation into the Garner case.
Thousands of protesters flooded city streets after the grand jury, empaneled by Republican Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, voted not to indict Mr. Pantaleo. Many elected officials, both white and black, strongly criticized the grand jury vote while Mayor Bill de Blasio strove to find a middle ground, echoing the protest chants of “black lives matter” while offering full-throated support for the NYPD and its commissioner, Bill Bratton. Mr. de Blasio did not directly criticize the grand jury decision.
Mr. Donovan’s inability to bring an indictment, while bemoaned throughout the city, was not necessarily unpopular in his home borough, where many police officers live. Only 41 percent of Staten Islanders said the grand jury should have indicted Mr. Pantaleo, compared with 45 percent who said the grand jury made the correct decision.
In comparison, across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Brooklyn, 66 percent said Mr. Pantaleo should have been indicted. 18 percent thought the grand jury made the correction decision.
View the full poll below: