By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.
Nearly six years after a NY cop killed Eric Garner, the New York State Assembly has effectively outlawed the use of chokeholds, making use of them felony charges.
At least they named the legislation after him, the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.
I’ve chosen to post today on the New York action, and left you, dear readers, to rely on a Common Dreams crosspost I also put up, to discuss the broader national police legislation, proposed yesterday by the Congressional Black Caucus. among other mainstream Democrats, for reasons I will dispose of here. I expect there will be ample opportunity to discuss this national policing legislation anon.
Why no discussion now of the national bill?
First, the odious Kamala Harris is front and centre in promoting the national bill, and I don’t trust her at all on policing reform matters nor for that matter on any criminal justice issues, frankly. She is aided and abetted by Cory Booker – to whom, rightly or wrongly,I give the benefit of the doubt. This may be partly because as a fellow rhodent, I understand the incredible pressures to which he is subject,
Some of the NC commentariat might pillory me for that statement. Bring it on! Seriously, although I don’t myself know Booker, someone whose opinion I trust, does, And so I would give him benefit of the doubt in proposing this bill, which certainly forwards some worthwhile objectives. But it merely lays them on the table.
So that leads me to a second reason to laud the NY state action, compared to the national Congressional Black Caucus proposals. Republicans do not appear to be on board in support, and so I fear this entire exercise in Democrat-driven reform may at the end of the day reduce to nothing more than mere virtue signalling.
Away from DC machinations and back to New York. The action NY state legislators undertook, defied police unions to put forward a countervailing reform measure. Which changes the law on the ground in the state of New York (where I happen to be a resident) which is much more significant than signalling a mere intent to change anything (as the national legislation does).
The New York measure creates a new crime called aggravated strangulation, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, and occurs when a police or peace officer, using a chokehold or similar restraint, applies pressure to the throat or windpipe of a person, according to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office. The offense adheres if the officer restricts breathing or otherwise impedes intake of air, and the action causes serious physical injury or death, according to Syacuse.com, NY lawmakers pass law named after Eric Garner that criminalizes police cdhokeholds
Well. Pity similar measures weren’t ‘in effect at the relevant time, in either New York to help Eric Garner, or in Minneapolis, to stop what Derek Chauvin allegedly did to George Floyd.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated he will sign the bill into law – as if he could do anything else, given the current political climate. But I shan’t minimise the potential impact of this bill. Per a statement released by the New York State Assembly, 996 people have reported being put in chokeholds by NYPD officers since Garner’s death, according to a CBS News account, New York lawmakers pass anti-chokehold bill named for Eric Garner.
The New York law change doesn’t do squat for either Eric Garner or George Floyd. May each of them rest in peace.
But it will perhaps make New York cops think twice about using chokeholds going forward.