The investigation into Eric Garner’s death at the hands of New York cops is still going on — and I haven’t heard any complaints from the right.
About 14 months ago, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to investigate the role of Russian interference in the 2016 election. On a daily basis, conservatives moan and groan about how long the investigation is taking and publicly demand that he wraps it up.
Never mind the fact that the investigation has yielded dozens of felony indictments, guilty pleas, and cooperating witnesses. Never mind the fact that President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and campaign manager have been swept up in this probe. Never mind the fact that it has unearthed evidence of a conspiracy to undermine the 2016 presidential election to tilt it Trump’s favor.
What I’m saying is this: Whether you like it or not, Mueller’s investigation is both methodical and productive. They’re not just spinning their wheels. I get the feeling that his entire team is actually working day and night to uncover and prosecute wrongdoing.
And this clearly irritates conservatives. In a poll earlier this year, nearly 80 percent of Republicans said that the investigation should end soon, and another poll found that around 30 percent of voters said that the investigation is unfair.
As an activist and organizer for families who’ve been affected by police brutality, this sudden frustration with long, meandering investigations from conservatives surprises me. Over four years ago, on the morning of July 17, 2014, New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death on a Staten Island sidewalk. The public medical examiner determined that Garner’s death was by asphyxiation. It was in broad daylight for dozens of witnesses to see. It was caught on film from start to finish. The chokehold was banned by the NYPD years before this incident ever took place. And yet, here we are, in month 48 of the “investigation” into Garner’s death. It’s been almost 1,500 days.
And I have to put quotation marks around “investigation,” because, unlike the Mueller probe, you’d struggle to find a single credible person in the country that actually believes that the city, state, or federal government has actually been investigating the Garner case for 48 months. Want to talk about “fake news”? That’s fake news.
I’d love to see the actual minutes and transcripts of what everybody has been investigating for the past 1,500 days. What did you do on day 301, day 643, day 897, day 1,044, day 1,250? It’s all bogus. This investigation should’ve been over in 2014. It’s all local. Every witness was local. It was filmed. It had a beginning, middle, and fatal end that are all clear and known.
Yet Pantaleo has not even been fired.
And I don’t know if I’ve seen a single conservative come out and say, “You know what, this investigation is dragging on. It needs to come to an end.”
In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a single conservative say that about any one of the thousands and thousands of killings by police over the past several years. Without fail, the investigations go on for years and years, causing tremendous pain and anguish for the families of the victims, only for the end result to almost always be absolutely nothing.
It is increasingly clear to me that when it comes to investigations into police shootings in this country, the entire law enforcement community, from police departments and prosecutors, to state attorney generals, and the Department, along with all of their backers, aren’t actually leading complex, multiyear investigations into these cases. They are simply using the word “investigation” as a delay tactic to stonewall activists, organizers, and even the scrutiny of local and national media, so that when they finally announce that they aren’t planning to do anything significant about the injustice, the response will be muted.
What’s increasingly clear to me is this: Conservatives don’t have an actual problem with long investigations. They don’t have a real problem with them going on for years and years on end — when they are over the wrongful deaths of black people. Emmett Till was murdered in 1955, a full 63 years ago, and our government just reopened its “investigation.” No — long investigations have never bothered them.