A Primary Race in SI District Where Eric Garner Died

A woman writes on a sign in preparation for Millions March NYC, held Dec. 13, 2014 shortly after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo over the death of Eric Garner. (Photo by Julius Motal for Voices of NY)

In the Sept. 13 primaries, long-shot candidate Jasmine Robinson is challenging Sen. Diane Savino for the state Senate seat in the 23rd District, which encompasses northern Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn. The incumbent has far more in her campaign war chest, as well as deep labor support, while Robinson has received little media attention. This “lack of a real race,” writes Jarrett Murphy in City Limits, “deprived voters there, and elsewhere, of a debate on some of the issues that arose after the 2014 killing of Eric Garner on one of the district’s sidewalks.”

Robinson, a legal secretary and first-time candidate, says she met Garner shortly before his death, when she was accosted on her way into a beauty supply store by a group of men hanging out on that same sidewalk. She says Garner interceded, saw her into the store, and escorted her out of the area when she was done shopping. It was Garner’s death at the hands of Daniel Pantaleo, Robinson says, that inspired her to become more politically active in the neighborhood. And it was at the memorial service for Garner’s daughter Erica earlier this year that Robinson says she decided to seek public office in hopes of finding a way for her community’s needs to be better met.

Savino’s campaign says she was a presence at memorials to Garner in the wake of the 2014 incident. After a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, Savino offered carefully worded remarks, per the Staten Island Advance, that expressed solidarity with the outraged without casting blame on the police officers involved in the death (…)

Following the grand jury’s failure to indict Pantaleo, Savino sponsored a bill in January 2015 that would let district attorneys disclose information on grand jury proceedings. However, while the bill was reintroduced in the state Assembly in 2017, Savino no longer supported the bill in the Senate.

Go to City Limits to find out why she rescinded her support of the bill, and what Robinson says will be one of her main goals if elected and what would help start the healing process in the death of Eric Garner.

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