Clinton Backs Federal Eric Garner Investigation; Christie Refuses to ‘Second-Guess’ Grand Jury

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 21:  Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Cookstoves Future Summit on November 21, 2014 in New York City. Clinton, who is the Leadership Council Chair for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, spoke to donors, activists and members of the media on the importance of clean cookstoves for families in parts of the developing world. Globally, 3 billion people rely on solid fuels to cook. This has resulted in polluted household air that kills over 4 million people every year and sickening millions more. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves looks to replace old stoves with more efficient and cleaner one's which would drastically reduce  the negative health issues associated with older stoves.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt/2014 Getty Images

Since the circumstances of Eric Garner’s death by an apparent police chokehold are far less ambiguous than the shooting of Michael Brown, the case has many conservatives speaking out against police brutality, even though they supported police in Ferguson, Missouri. Chris Christie is not among them. During a visit to Canada on Thursday, the New Jersey governor said he’s “not going to second-guess” the Staten Island grand jury that decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo. “As someone who ran a prosecuting office for seven years [as a U.S. attorney] before I became governor, one of the things I learned is that you never know all the things that a grand jury knows unless you’re in that grand jury and working with them,” Christie said.

Christie is known for refusing to answer thorny questions about national politics, so it’s no surprise that he isn’t staking out a position. His potential 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, waded into the debate on Thursday while speaking at the Massachusetts Conference for Women.

While Clinton praised the many “decent, honorable, brave police officers” in communities across America, she said she supports both President Obama’s decision to form a task force to review police tactics, and the Justice Department’s investigation of Garner’s death. “Those families and those communities and our country deserve a full and fair accounting, as well as whatever substantive reforms are necessary to ensure equality, justice and respect for every citizen,” Clinton said. She also criticized the federal government for sending local police departments “weapons of war.”

Clinton went on to say that our criminal justice system has become “out of balance,” and called for reforming police tactics and the prison system. She noted that, “in spite of all the progress we’ve made together, African-Americans, most particularly African-American men, are still more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms.”

She added that she hopes the recent tragedies create an opportunity for change, and said that in light of the protests, people should try “even harder to see the world through our neighbors eyes.” “Aren’t these our sons? Aren’t these our brothers?” Clinton asked. “These tragedies did not happen in some faraway place. They did not happen to some other people. There are our streets, our children.”