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Media analysis: Trump rally chants drown out police cases in week of racial tension

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The “We are Eric Garner” rally was held on the five-year anniversary of Garner’s death.
USA TODAY

Hundreds of protesters marched in New York, carrying coffins and signs, to demand on Wednesday that all police officers involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner be fired. 

Just hours later, it was overshadowed by a fresh wound. Five hundred miles to the south that night, the crowd at President Trump’s North Carolina rally chanted “send her back” as he railed against Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia when she was 12. 

The chants overtook mainstream media and echoed Trump’s Sunday tweets that four Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back” to where they came from, bookending an emotional week in which racism took center stage.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, four police were fired in an alleged cover-up following Laquand McDonald’s shooting death and Philadelphia fired more than a dozen officers for racist Facebook posts. 

“This entire week has been a best hits album of American racism,” tweeted author Clint Smith III. 

“I’m feeling the same things that I felt when these white folks down in South Baltimore were throwing rocks and bottles at me,” U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun. “But now, I feel like it’s the president of the United States doing it.”  

More: ‘Disgusted.’ How Republicans are reacting to ‘send her back’ chants at Donald Trump’s rally

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The Democratic-led US House voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s Twitter comments against four congresswomen of color.
USA TODAY

Trump let supporters chant “send her back” for 13 seconds, doing nothing to stop them, before continuing on with his speech. He disavowed the chants the following day but then Friday defended the crowd as “incredible patriots.”

TRUMP STOKES RACISM: His words, from the ‘Central Park Five’ to ‘the squad’

The rally came the day after the Justice Department announced its decision not to bring a federal civil rights prosecution against officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Garner case.

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“Send her back” chants erupted at a Trump rally as the president criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar for her “contempt” for the “hard-working Americans.”
Storyful

Garner, 43, a black man, was accused of selling single cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island when Pantaleo attempted to arrest him. Garner gasped, “I can’t breathe” after Pantaleo and other officers knocked him to the ground and Pantaleo held him around the head and neck. The video of the encounter became a touchpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement.   

More: ‘We are fighting for justice’: Protesters call for firing of NYPD officers at ‘We are Eric Garner’ rally

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said Attorney General William Barr made the final call, adding that video and other evidence “does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that officer Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of federal law.”

The Garner family and protesters are now seeking action from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department in regards to Pantaleo, whose fate with the NYPD will be decided Aug. 31. 

“It’s unclear to me how five years later, we still have Pantaleo on the police force. It’s as if nothing happened, and I think it’s wrong,” said Brian Benjamin, an African-American state senator in New York.

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  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. Garner died after a confrontation with a police officer in the borough of Staten Island. The Department of Justice announced on July 16, 2019 to not pursue civil rights charges against NYPD officer David Pantaleo, who put the 43-year-old black manin achokehold.1 of 11
  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. 2 of 11
  • Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, in pink, protests in Foley Square in New York with others on July 17, 2019.3 of 11
  • Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, speaks to the crowd during the protests in Foley Square in New York with others on July 17, 2019.4 of 11
  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. 5 of 11
  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. 6 of 11
  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. 7 of 11
  • Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, in pink, protests in Foley Square in New York with others on July 17, 2019. 8 of 11
  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. 9 of 11
  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. 10 of 11
  • People participate in a protest to mark the five-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2019 in New York. 11 of 11

Chicago Police Board fired four police officers for allegedly covering up the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white officer in 2014.

Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced last year to a more than 6-year prison term after shooting McDonald 16 times.

The police board now fired Sgt. Stephen Franko and officers Janet Mondragon, Ricardo Viramontes and Daphne Sebastian for each violating department rules. The first three were found to have given false reports on the incident while Sebastian determined to have given inconsistent statements.

In Philadelphia, the police department moved to fire 13 officers following an investigation that found offensive and sometimes threatening and racist social media posts by the cops.

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Philadelphia has placed 72 of its police officers on administrative duty pending an investigation into alleged bigoted social media posts. Veuer’s Justin Kircher has the story.

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The firings came after a nonprofit’s two-year review of personal Facebook posts and comments from officers in Philadelphia and seven other U.S. police departments.

Dubbed The Plain View Project, the team of researchers found officers from Arizona to Florida bashing immigrants and Muslims, promoting racist stereotypes, identifying with right-wing militia groups and, especially, glorifying police brutality. All the posts were public.

An additional four police officers will be suspended for 30 days but return to work.

More: Philadelphia to fire 13 police officers after series of racist, discriminatory Facebook posts

“I continue to be very disappointed and angered by these posts, many of which violate basic human decency,” Police Commissioner Richard Ross said. “We need to move past this ridiculous hate that has consumed this country and has done so for centuries.”

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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