'Fire Pantaleo!': Hecklers interrupt Democratic debate, taunting Bill de Blasio about Eric Garner cop originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came under fire repeatedly during the city's handling of the death of Eric Garner on Wednesday, as the second night of the Democratic presidential debate was interrupted by hecklers.
Interruptions from protesters began during the candidates' opening statements, and forced Sen. Cory Booker to briefly pause his remarks.
out, "Fire Pantaleo!" -- a reference to Daniel Pantaleo, the New York police officer involved in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, whose dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a national rallying cry for demonstrations about police treatment of minorities.
Corey Booker opening statement interrupted by protesters chanting "Fire Pantaleo!" It's a reference to the NYPD officer involved in the Eric Garner killing. There was similar chants during de Blasio's opening but not quite as loud.— USA TODAY Politics (@usatodayDC) August 1, 2019
The chant was also shouted during de Blasio's opening statement, but the mayor spoke over it.
Minutes later, Booker's campaign took to Twitter to say "good for you" to the protests.
Over the next hour, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and housing chief during the Obama administration, all weighed in.
"He knew what he was doing, that he was killing Eric Garner, and yet he has not been brought to justice. That police officer should be off the street," Castro said.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department declined to file federal civil rights charges against Pantaleo. A Staten Island grand jury chose not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo on any state criminal charges four months after Garner's death.
(MORE: Justice Dept will not file charges against officer involved in Eric Garner’s death )
For his part, de Blasio faulted federal authorities for declining to prosecute Pantaleo, and said he sympathized with Garner's family.
"Let me tell you, I know the Garner family. They've gone through extraordinary pain. They're waiting for justice and they're going to get justice. There's finally going to be justice," de Blasio said.
And, like Booker, de Blasio's campaign took to Twitter to thank the protesters.
Additional reporting by ABC News' Aaron Katersky
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