(CNN) As Baltimore reels from protests over the death of a black man at the hands of white police officers, a New York congressman is calling for a national ban on chokeholds, the restraining move that led to the death of Eric Garner over the summer.
Garner, a black man, died after being choked by a white police officer who was trying to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes. The officer was cleared of any criminal charges in Garner’s death, even though the New York Police Department has banned officers from using the maneuver for more than 20 years, and the incident sparked protests in the city and across the country over police conduct.
“There are departments all across the United States of America … that prohibit, limit or discourage the use of chokeholds, yet we understand that chokeholds continue to be used, sometimes with deadly effect as in the Garner case, all across the country,” New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.”
“So it’s not sufficient simply to ban a policy through departmental practice. We’ve got to elevate it, embed it in law, if we really and truly want to end it. It’s an unreasonable practice; we want to make it an unlawful practice,” said Jeffries, a Democrat whose district includes Brooklyn and Queens.
Jeffries called for a national ban on Monday in New York alongside Garner’s mother, and introduced a bill the next day to make it illegal for police officers to use chokeholds.
A similar bill proposed by the New York City Council failed to muster enough support after Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to veto the proposal, saying the police department’s ban on the bill was sufficient.
De Blasio has struggled to win back the support of his police department after he faced criticism from officers for his reaction to Garner’s death and his handling of the ensuing protests, but his pledge to veto the chokehold bill could help mend ties.
Jeffries, however, said Garner’s chokehold death is just one of “hundreds” of instances of misused chokeholds in New York and said his bill would deter officers from using the technique.