Hip-hop legends Jay Z and Russell Simmons met with New York City Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week to discuss reforms to the criminal justice system in the wake of the police killing of Staten Island resident Eric Garner.
A grand jury there decided not to indict any of the officers involved in the chokehold death of Garner, even though much of the act was captured on videotape and aired across the country. That, coupled with the recent police killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo. during which witnesses told authorities the youth was attempting to surrender when the fatal shots were fired, has prompted protests across the country.
“We want to promote the end of police protecting police and not prosecuting police,” said Simmons. He later told the overflow crowd Cuomo has promised to have special prosecutors handle cases similar to the Garner one.
Cuomo is also reported to be considering a request from state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman seeking temporary authority to investigate fatal confrontations between police and citizens.
The New York Times earlier reported that Jay Z was instrumental in helping members of the Brooklyn Nets team gain access to the “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts they donned Tuesday before they faced the Cleveland Cavaliers before Prince William and wife Kate Middleton.
The phrase is reported to be the last words Garner spoke as he was being held face down on the pavement by police. NBA players from Derrick Rose to LeBron James to Kobe Bryant have also worn the shirts during pregame warmups.
Added fellow hip hop star Common “America should be ashamed of itself.” “We’re going to do everything it takes to change the system. I stand in front of a young man who lost his father for no reason. We can’t allow this to happen in this country again.”[Photo Credit: Ellas Portfolio]