The protesters were chanting “fire Pantaleo” in reference to the mayor’s handling of a police case in which New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo engaged in a fatal struggle with Eric Garner in 2014. Pantaleo allegedly choked Garner to death after he was stopped for selling untaxed cigarettes by the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Soon after, a video of the scuffle — in which Garner can he heard saying “I can’t breathe” — went viral, prompting national discussions about the use of excessive force by police.
The chants come on the heels of news that federal prosecutors have dropped all charges against Pantaleo and are no longer pursuing a civil rights indictment.
Later on, former vice president Joe Biden was also interrupted by another set of protesters who chanted “3 million deportations,” likely referencing the number of people deported under the Obama administration. The chants came during Biden’s response to a question in which the moderator highlighted higher rates of deportation under the Obama administration than those under the Trump administration.
Other members of the debate include Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, former housing and urban development secretary Julian Castro, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Senator Kamala Harris, Washington Goveronor Jay Inslee and businessman Andrew Yang.