Ramsey Orta had been under constant harassment by the NYPD ever since recording Eric Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” on July 17, 2014 – up until they had him imprisoned on weapon and drug charges seven months later.
After an extensive pressure campaign from WeCopwatch, Orta was released from Mid State Correctional Facility just over a week ago.
“Ramsey is safe, in an undisclosed location, and taking time to heal after a really tough time in prison,” said Jacob Crawford of We Copwatch.
“He had been transferred to over 10 different facilities, put in solitary confinement seven times totaling to well over a year in isolation. He has a lot of work ahead of him.”
Orta eventually will be back on the streets with WeCopwatch conducting trainings and spreading the gospel of Copwatch, but he is not doing any interviews for now because he needs time to heal from the trauma inflicted by the American criminal justice system.
“We began a pressure campaign a few months ago to get Ramsey released from prison early largely due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and an increased pattern of torture, neglect and abuse from corrections officers,” Crawford said.
In April, Orta became ill after receiving numerous threats from correctional officers that threatened to intentionally give him Covid-19.
“Ramsey was being threatened with death, he was being physically abused, he was being denied showers and items he used to keep his cell clean were being confiscated,” he said.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Orta has been in solitary confinement. There has been reports of the virus within Mid State Correctional Facility.
He was released on May 28, a time when the protests rocked the nation, demanding police accountability in the wake of the George Floyd death.
Meanwhile, the NYPD cop who strangled Garner to death, Daniel Pantaleo, did not get fired until five years later, losing his pension. He is suing to get his job back.
On Monday, New York legislators passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act which criminalizes police chokeholds that lead to injury or death, turning them into a Class C felony which comes with a maximum sentence of 15 years.
The new law, which can be read here, states the following:
“ESTABLISHES THE CRIME OF AGGRAVATED STRANGULATION FOR POLICE OFFICERS OR PEACE OFFICERS WHERE SUCH OFFICER COMMITS THE CRIME OF CRIMINAL OBSTRUCTION OR BREATHING OR BLOOD CIRCULATION, OR USES A CHOKEHOLD OR SIMILAR RESTRAINT, AND CAUSES SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH.”
Speaker Carl Heastie released a press release:
“THE NYPD BAN ON CHOKEHOLDS WAS NOT ENOUGH TO PROTECT ERIC GARNER, AND IT IS NOT ENOUGH TODAY. THIS LEGISLATION WILL PUT AN END TO THE PRACTICE ACROSS THE STATE.”
Now it is up to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill.
The New York Senate also passed the Right to Monitor Act, which confirms and protects the public’s ability to record police.
“We are not anti-police. We are anti-bad-police,” said Assembly Minority Leader Crystal Peoples Stokes, according to ABC13.
A GoFundMe fundraiser that was set up to help Orta get back on his feet has raised more than $200,000. You can follow up to date news on him via this Facebook page.
WeCopwatch is in the process of creating a community outreach to teach citizens their rights in interacting with and recording police. Read the latest on that here.
Watch Orta’s full video above. Watch the trailer for the WeCopwatch documentary below featuring Orta’s case.