7:34pm PT by Aaron Couch, Hilary Lewis
Eric Garner Decision: Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Katy Perry, Gabrielle Union Speak Out
A grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner using a choke hold during his July arrest has sparked a strong response from Hollywood.
Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes was among those sharing their displeasure online by using the hashtag #ICantBreath — a reference to Garner's final words as New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo continued to hold in him in the choke hold until he died.
How is this America? #ICantBreathe— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) December 4, 2014
Netflix raised eyebrows with this tweet promoting the crime drama Peaky Blinders. The tweet had people on Twitter speculating it was commentary on the grand jury's decision. A rep for Netflix declined to comment.
The Fault In Our Stars author John Green tweeted a transcript of Garner's final words, which were caught on video by a bystander.
Eric Garner's last words. pic.twitter.com/5lbqIEm63t— John Green (@johngreen) December 4, 2014
Other stars expressed their views about the decision on social media.
There is no evidence that Mr Garner was selling cigarettes. He was a father of 5 kids, married for 27 years- a family man. #ICantBreathe— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) December 4, 2014
How can you NOT indict a policeman for choking to death an unarmed man who screams 'I can't breathe' 8 times? #EricGarner— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 3, 2014
If I could, I would be there laying in those streets of NYC, peacefully protesting. WE HAVE TO CHANGE. ALL LIVES MATTER #WeCantBreathe— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) December 4, 2014
This one was on film. http://t.co/Zm7DKL09ok— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) December 3, 2014
Unarmed man put n2 ILLEGAL chokehold, says he can't breathe, caught on tape, later dies &no charges?! Tell us again ALL our lives matter...— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) December 3, 2014
SMDH....God the world is crying for your help. This really makes me sad. All I can do is pray & I plan on doing that harder than ever....I'm praying for everyone....I'm praying that we as people can simply do better and evolve. I'm praying that we continue to move forward and not backwards. Because going backwards = scary #Message #Praying
A photo posted by kevinhart4real (@kevinhart4real) on
I urge and challenge musicians and artists alike to push themselves to be a voice of the times that we live in. I know that many see what happened to Dixie Chicks' #NatalieMaines @mainesmusic (she bravely expressed her opinion/dismay on the Bush administration declaring war & was unjustly targeted....while in hindsight being CORRECT) suddenly there was an onslaught of radio silence from artists across the board (correction not everyone was silent, but the silence was deafening) although I'm kinda/sorta addressing the hip hop nation I really apply this challenge to ALL artists. We need new Dylans. New Public Enemys. New Simones. New De La Roachas. New ideas! But it just doesn't stop there!! We need outlets (hello #ClearChannel #RadioOne #Vh1) to balance the system. Yeah I'm just as guilty of feeling the high of all that I despise ("Devil's Pie" D'angelo) but the reason why this nation seems to be moving 3 steps ahead in some areas.....but then 7 steps backwards in every area is a lack of balance. I'm not saying every song gotta be "Fight The Power" but in times like these we need to be more community minded (taking a wild guess that "urban radio's" format didn't change much from the pre program stuff (using that word *politely*) we've been hearing for years. & when I say challenge I don't mean breathless race to the finish on who makes the more banging "Fuck Tha Police" sequel. I mean real stories. Real narratives. Songs with spirit in them. Songs with solutions. Songs with questions. Protest songs don't have to be boring or non danceable or ready made for the next Olympics. They just have to speak truth. I laugh & have fun w "Bitch You Guessed It" like everyone else. But my soul is aching man. Seriously just ONE or Two songs that change the course. This is something I feel the need and urgency to put out there. #EricGarner #MikeBrown #JusticeForAll #FeedMySoul #HandsUpDontShoot #ICantBreathe
A photo posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on
At the New York premiere of Chris Rock's new film Top Five on Wednesday night, as protests were unfolding around the city, actor Ben Vereen shared his views with The Hollywood Reporter. Although he wasn't up on the news about the indictment decision, once THR told him what happened, Vereen spoke passionately about the need for change.
"That’s gotta stop," he said. "We the people must stand up for our people. I don’t know the circumstances, you don’t know the circumstances, what went down. We were not there, but at some point we’ve got to draw a line because we need these gentlemen protecting our streets. But we as a people have to curtail our behavior and help one another…I wasn’t there, I don’t know the circumstances, but for anyone to be choked to death is wrong. We need prayer. We need spiritual enforcers to bring love to the planet."
The news comes after last week's decision by a Missouri grand jury not to indict the police officer who fatally shot unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. Protesters in New York shut down part of the West Side Highway Wednesday.