Established in the summer of 2014, Justice League NYC (JLNYC) is a task force of social activists, juvenile- and criminal-justice advocates, and formerly incarcerated individuals who seek to draw public attention to what they portray as an epidemic of police brutality against African American civilians in New York City. The League operates under the banner of Gathering For Justice (GFJ), whose executive director, Carmen Perez, was a co-founder of JLNYC.
Emblematic of the crisis of police misconduct, says JLNYC, was a July 17, 2014 incident where a 43-year-old black New Yorker named Eric Garner died after having resisted several white police officers’ efforts to arrest him for illegally selling “loosies”—single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. One of the officers at the scene, Daniel Pantaleo, put his arms around the much taller Garner’s neck and took him down to the ground with a headlock/chokehold. A black NYPD sergeant supervised the entire altercation and never ordered Pantaleo to release the hold. Garner subsequently suffered cardiac arrest in an ambulance that was taking him to the hospital, and he was pronounced dead approximately an hour after the initial altercation. City medical examiners eventually concluded that Garner’s death was the result of an interplay between the police officer’s hold and Garner’s multiple chronic infirmities, which included bronchial asthma, heart disease, obesity, and hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Without evidence, JLNYC depicted Officer Pantaleo’s action as racially motivated.
Becoming actively involved in the massive, nationwide protest movement that followed Garner’s death, JLNYC demanded that:
all the officers involved in “the Eric Garner murder” be fired from the NYPD immediately;
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman appoint a special prosecutor to “investigate and prosecute all excessive force and wrongful death cases by police officers, and in particular … the wrongful death of Eric Garner”;
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “expedite the federal investigation” into Garner’s death;
the City and State of New York draft legislation “making the chokehold illegal” and mandating “significant penalties for any officer who uses it”;
New York City create an NYPD Training Program designed to “eliminate racial disparity” in arrest and incarceration rates, and to put an end to the purported scourge of “police brutality” citywide;
the NYPD’s “Broken Windows” policing practices, which “overwhelmingly targe[t] black and brown communities while having no effect on neighborhood safety or crime reduction,” be stopped immediately;
“the criminialization of young people in the NY school system” be eliminated promptly, along with the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline” that “targets primarily youth of color and has created a generation of youth growing up incarcerated”;
New York State and all its localities demonstrate “complete transparency in regards to profiling, search-and-seizure practices, and … other police practices including summonses, arrests, and detention practices”; and
In September 2014, JLNYC sponsored “Growing Up Locked Down,” a three-day Juvenile Justice Conference presented at The New School in Manhattan. This event featured workshops and panels that addressed subjects ranging from the state of childhood incarceration to the media’s reportage on the issue. Among the guest speakers were Harry Belafonte and Cornel West.
In late 2014 and into early 2015, JLNYC’s Internet homepage featured a photo of Lisa Fithian — along with photos of a few other left-wing activists — below a caption stating that the Justice League was “Powered By People Like You.”