Hundreds of protesters marched in New York, carrying coffins and signs, to demand on Wednesday that all police officers involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner be fired.
Just hours later, it was overshadowed by a fresh wound. Five hundred miles to the south that night, the crowd at President Trump's North Carolina rally chanted "send her back" as he railed against Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia when she was 12.
The chants overtook mainstream media and echoed Trump's Sunday tweets that four Democratic congresswomen of color should "go back" to where they came from, bookending an emotional week in which racism took center stage.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, four police were fired in an alleged cover-up following Laquan McDonald's shooting death and Philadelphia fired more than a dozen officers for racist Facebook posts.
"This entire week has been a best hits album of American racism," author Clint Smith III tweeted.
Everything that’s happened the past few days shows why teaching history is so important. This entire week has been a best hits album of american racism, but bc many fail to understand its prior manifestations, people mistake regurgitated bigotry as if it appeared out of thin air.— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) July 18, 2019
"I’m feeling the same things that I felt when these white folks down in South Baltimore were throwing rocks and bottles at me," U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun. "But now, I feel like it’s the president of the United States doing it."
Trump let supporters chant "send her back" for 13 seconds, doing nothing to stop them, before continuing on with his speech. He disavowed the chants the following day but then Friday defended the crowd as "incredible patriots."
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The rally came a day after the Justice Department announced its decision not to bring a federal civil rights prosecution against officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Garner case.
Garner, 43, a black man, was accused of selling single cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island when Pantaleo attempted to arrest him. Garner gasped, "I can't breathe" after Pantaleo and other officers knocked him to the ground and Pantaleo held him around the head and neck. The video of the encounter became a touchpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said Attorney General William Barr made the final call, adding that video and other evidence "does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that officer Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of federal law."
The Garner family and protesters are now seeking action from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department in regards to Pantaleo, whose fate with the NYPD will be decided Aug. 31.
“It’s unclear to me how five years later, we still have Pantaleo on the police force. It’s as if nothing happened, and I think it’s wrong,” said Brian Benjamin, an African-American state senator in New York.
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said in a statement that the group is "disturbed" by the Justice Department's decision to not make charges in the Garner case and will "continue to demand accountability from a system that was not created to protect black people, but instead targets us."
As for Trump, she said Black Lives Matter is "disgusted but not surprised that our current president has blatantly launched racist attacks against four congresswomen of color." She added: "We stand behind these women and will continue to fight for racial justice and for the soul of this country."
Decisions were also made in other cases important to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Thursday, the Chicago Police Board fired four police officers amid allegations that they covered up the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white officer in 2014.
Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced last year to a more than 6-year prison term after shooting McDonald 16 times.
The police board now fired Sgt. Stephen Franko and Officers Janet Mondragon, Ricardo Viramontes and Daphne Sebastian for violating department rules. The first three were found to have given false reports on the incident; Sebastian was determined to have given inconsistent statements.
In Philadelphia, the police department moved to fire 13 officers following an investigation that found offensive and sometimes threatening and racist social media posts by the police.
The firings came after a nonprofit's two-year review of personal Facebook posts and comments from officers in Philadelphia and seven other U.S. police departments.
Dubbed The Plain View Project, the team of researchers found officers from Arizona to Florida bashing immigrants and Muslims, promoting racist stereotypes, identifying with right-wing militia groups and, especially, glorifying police brutality. All the posts were public.
An additional four police officers will be suspended for 30 days but return to work.
“I continue to be very disappointed and angered by these posts, many of which violate basic human decency,” Police Commissioner Richard Ross said. “We need to move past this ridiculous hate that has consumed this country and has done so for centuries.”
Contributing: Associated Press
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump's racist tweets, 'send her back' and police cases build tension