By now, everyone should be familiar with the wrongful death of Eric Garner by the hands of the New York City Police Department. This devastating event, later ruled a homicide by the New York City Medical Examiner, sparked protests and rallies around the U.S. with citizens uniting and chanting “I Can’t Breathe” “No Justice, No Peace”.
Garner’s death was recorded by bystander Ramsey Orta. Had Orta not caught this attack on camera, the public would have been oblivious to the brutality the police displayed and Orta would probably still be a free man.
The day after Garner’s death was declared a homicide, Orta was arrested and jailed on an unrelated gun charge and later also charged with a gun crime. He is being held at Rikers Island on $100,000 bail. Orta’s aunt Lisa Mercado is claiming both charges are false and trumped-up as a result of Orta recording the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Mercado started a gofundme.com campaign to raise $40,000 for her nephew’s attorney fees, $16,250 of which was needed for his bond.
According to The Free Thought Project Orta had been losing hope in jail, he feared for his life and believed the New York Corrections Department Officers we trying to kill him by putting rat poison in his food, when 19 other inmates became ill after eating Rikers meatloaf that had been rifled with rat pellets. As a result, Orta decided to go on a prison hunger strike.
After donations from more than 1,600 donors began pouring in, Orta’s family had the money they needed to post his bail and bring him home. To their dismay, the DA denied his release, demanding a “bail source” hearing to determine if the bail money is permissible or from illegal sources. Orta’s Attorney Kenneth Perry stated “I’m amazed, here the D.A. was given 115 pages of names showing who these donors were.”
According to pix11.com, when contacted, the office of the District Attorney stated that a bail source hearing is common in criminal cases and Orta was scheduled to go before the judge Friday, April 10th. To the peoples delight, the hearing was canceled and after being held in Riker’s Island since February 10th, Orta was granted release on bail Friday afternoon.
Orta has many supporters backing him, considering what he did as an act of heroism. As of today, over 2,050 people have donated over $54,850 in support of Orta’s release and legal fees. Orta’s next court date is May 28th where he will stand trial for the alleged charges against him. Justice may not have been granted in the preventable death of Eric Garner, but if activists continue to support, let their voices be heard and unite, maybe the term “justice for all” will finally ring true one day.