By Brooklyn Reader

March 21, 2015, 10:08 am

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City Councilman Vincent Gentile
City Councilman Vincent Gentile

Bay Ridge City Councilman and Democratic candidate for the 11th Congressional District seat Vincent Gentile, today, said he was disappointed with yesterday’s court decision to keep sealed the records from the Eric Garner grand jury case, but stopped short of venturing an opinion on whether the feds should investigate the case or if special prosecutors should be appointed in cases where unarmed civilians die after confrontations with police.

Garner died in Staten Island July 17 after a confrontation with the police, who wanted to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold as he and other officers tried to make the arrest. Garner was videotaped saying he couldn’t breathe and then collapsed and died on the sidewalk.

“I join in the chorus of disappointment with the court’s decision yesterday to keep sealed the records from the Eric Garner grand jury case. First and foremost we must remember that a man, a father of seven and grandfather of three, tragically lost his life on a Staten Island street corner. As a former prosecutor and Assistant District Attorney, I have the utmost respect for the judicial process and I’m not interested in debating the merits of the case or criticizing the citizens on the grand jury. That said, had the court decided to release to the public the Grand Jury’s transcript along with the instructions the jury was given and the evidence that was presented, I believe the wounds we are still tending to could have been softened,” said Gentile.

Gentile’s GOP opponent Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, did petition the court to release more information about the proceedings than he was ultimately allowed to release, but was opposed to a lawsuit asking that all the minutes from the case be released.

“Dan is not legally allowed to say what charges he asked them to consider. He also can’t legally say what information he petitioned the court to unseal. He did say it’s not fair to witnesses–many of whom are civilians–who were told their testimony would be kept confidential to change the rules on them after the fact,” said Donovan spokesperson Jessica Proud.

According to a New York Times story, Donovan grew up in the same working-class racially mixed neighborhood  of Tompkinsville where Garner lived and died.

The article also states several of Donovan relatively moderate views including his support for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act with some tweaking and his opposition to Congress withholding funds to the Department of Homeland Security to hold up Obama’s executive order on immigration.

However, yesterday, as Gentile was holding a Mayor de Blasio-facilitated fundraiser, Donovan’s campaign manager Ron Carara sent out a fundraising email stating more money was needed to counter “the radical Left” now attacking Donovan.”

The email notes this includes an Occupy Wall Street social media campaign and Rev Al Sharpton’s National Action Network “working under the radar and doing their best to hurt Dan’s campaign.”

Gentile’s campaign jumped on the email.

“Dan Donovan should really be ashamed of himself for using this cowardly tactic. This is race baiting at its worst. At a time when we should all be coming together and encouraging a sense of community and trust, Dan Donovan is engaging in demagoguery and purposely driving a racial wedge between voters,” said Gentile spokesperson Justin Brannan.

The 11th Congressional District is made up predominately of working-class whites with some enclaves of black voters in Staten Island. Gentile’s Bay Ridge council district has by far the least amount of black residents in the congressional district and in Brooklyn.

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