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Civil rights leaders in America have decried the grand jury decision not to charge a white New York City police officer in the choke-hold death of a black man and announced plans for a march and a summit on racial justice in Washington later this month.

Civil rights leaders in America have decried the grand jury decision not to charge a white New York City police officer in the choke-hold death of a black man and announced plans for a march and a summit on racial justice in Washington later this month.

The case of Eric Garner - combined with the decision by a grand jury last week not to charge the white officer who shot and killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri - stirred a national conversation about race, police training and the grand jury process. Unlike Brown's shooting, Garner's arrest was captured on videotape.

investigation

Amid the tensions, US Attorney General Eric Holder presented the results of an investigation into police in the Ohio city of Cleveland, prompted by several highly publicised police encounters, some of them deadly.

The Justice Department report said Cleveland police use excessive and unnecessary force far too often, are poorly trained in tactics and firearm use and endanger the public and their fellow officers with their recklessness.

The results of the investigation came just one week after hundreds of people blocked a Cleveland freeway to protest the Garner and Brown killings, along with the fatal shooting of a black 12-year-old boy by a white officer outside a Cleveland recreation centre.

Police said the officer thought the boy was holding a firearm, but he actually had an airsoft gun that shoots non-lethal plastic pellets.

About 20 civil rights leaders met behind closed doors yesterday at the New York City headquarters of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

Sharpton, one of America's most outspoken civil rights activists, said a civil rights summit will be held following a December 13 march in Washington.

Garner (43) died as officers were attempting to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. The video, shot by an onlooker and widely viewed on the internet, showed Garner telling a group of police officers to leave him alone as they tried to arrest him.

POLICY

Officer Daniel Pantaleo responded by wrapping his arm around Garner's neck in what appeared to be a choke-hold, which is banned under the New York Police Department's policy.

The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, was heard repeatedly gasping, "I can't breathe!". He later died at a hospital.

Thousands protested in New York, chanting and blocking traffic, after the grand jury decided not to bring charges against Pantaleo. Police said 83 people were arrested in New York, mostly on disorderly conduct charges.

hnews@herald.ie


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