Richard A. Fowler
NEW YORK—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case.
"Eric Garner's death was a tragedy that shocked the conscience of many New Yorkers. We in the AFT family express our deep condolences to his family.
"Today, we share in the disappointment of many who question the outcome of the grand jury's deliberations in this case. Coming after the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, Mo., this decision causes many in New York and around the country to question their faith in our criminal justice system. Make no mistake, we respect the difficult job our police do in keeping our communities safe, but the issue of excessive force must be addressed.
"On this difficult day, I was in New York, and like other New Yorkers I watched the video over and over and found it difficult to reconcile the grand jury's decision and the evidence in the video.
"The AFT represents educators who tomorrow will be in schools with students. As United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said, "We must be ready to help them work through their emotions and the difficult issues that this decision raises for many of them."
"We in the AFT are committed to a fair and just society. That is why we are joining Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand, and many in our congressional delegation, in calling for a U.S. Justice Department investigation.
"While many are understandably angry at today's decision, we remain mindful of the lessons of the civil rights movement that nonviolent protest is the best way to secure justice. In the coming days and weeks, we urge that that precept be carried out."
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The AFT represents 1.6 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.