Oh, hey. It’s been a banner week for cops killing unarmed black people. First a grand jury in Missouri refused to indict Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed kid last summer from 150 feet away, and yesterday a New York grand jury refused to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who killed an unarmed Eric Garner on Staten Island.
Unlike the case of Michael Brown, which raised much uncertainty due to the he said / they said nature of the evidence, the homicide of Eric Garner was captured on video.
Here it is.
I heard some people on the radio Wednesday talking about how Garner had a long rap sheet.
Garner was a city employee – he was a horticulturalist for the city. His rap sheet wasn’t for anything violent. It was for selling loose cigarettes and vehicle and traffic law issues. He was married with 6 kids. He was a man. He was a human being. He wasn’t a thug or any other epithet you can muster.
Garner was arrested while standing on a sidewalk. Seriously, that’s something you get arrested for? That’s not a ticket? Anyhow, Garner was standing on the sidewalk when police approached him, and he said, “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!” After the cops tried to subdue Garner, and after he told the cop holding him in an illegal chokehold that he couldn’t breathe, Garner died.
Died. He died because he was standing on a sidewalk, and cops thought he might be selling loose cigarettes.
The video shows the whole thing.
How about now? Now is it ok with you if black people are angry and upset? Tell me more about how black people are supposed to trust and cooperate with law enforcement. Don’t try and change the subject to “black on black crime” this time – it was irrelevant then, and it’s irrelevant now. This isn’t about a neighborhood beef – this is about violence taking a life under color of law; this is a fundamental civil rights issue.
You want to go on Facebook or elsewhere and bitch about how racism is over, or how there was no racism before Kenyan Muslim Usurper n0bummer got into office?
Now, I don’t know whether the cops in New York intended to kill – much less harm – Eric Garner, but that’s what happened. Cops are allowed to use reasonable force to do what they need to do – protect themselves, protect others, or subdue and arrest a suspect. Was the chokehold in this instance “reasonable force”? Could some other method have been employed to subdue and arrest this man who was standing on the sidewalk? This is why we have trials. But if a grand jury doesn’t bring an indictment, you won’t have a criminal proceeding.
Should Garner have simply gone with the cops and not resisted? Sure, that would have been swell, too. But he resisted, so the police had the right to use reasonable force to arrest him. They did not have the right to end his life, however.
Don’t touch me, please. I can’t breathe.
A trial. That’s all that was on the table – arresting the officer and requiring that he answer for this homicide. Grand juries – secret law enforcement proceedings – are not where these things should be adjudicated.
There’s some consolation in the fact that the Justice Department is looking into this case, and the family will bring a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the cop and the city. But none of this can undo something that never should have happened.
Here’s the kicker – unlike high school graduate Michael Brown, who had enrolled in college – Garner couldn’t be accused of being violent or belligerent. In fact, just moments before he was killed, he had broken up a fight. He was a peacemaker. (By the way, even if it’s true that Michael Brown had cursed at a cop, it’s not a crime to curse at a cop.) From the Daily News,
But Esaw Garner and other family members said it was a trumped up claim.
“They’re covering their asses, he was breaking up a fight. They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him,” she said. Garner’s family said he didn’t have any cigarettes on him or in his car at the time of his death.
She said she pleaded with police at the hospital to tell her what happened, but they brushed her off.
“They wouldn’t tell me anything,” she said.
I don’t think the cop on Staten Island was racist, and I don’t think he killed Eric Garner because he was black. But black lives matter, and the system should work for you no matter what your skin color.
The quip about grand juries being able to indict a ham sandwich has to do with the fact that the grand jury process is controlled completely by the District Attorney – if they wanted an indictment, you bet your ass they’d have gotten it. People in New York and Missouri are scratching their heads, wondering why these particular homicides don’t even merit a trial.
Just a trial.
The police are not above the law. A little justice isn’t too much to ask, is it?