Last week, we saw no justice for Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO as Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, walked away without being indicted by the grand jury. This week, yet another police officer gets away with murdering an unarmed black man, this time in New York City. This seems to be a new normal as these crimes and the lack of justice seems to be occurring more frequently in the last few years.
Eric garner was breaking up a fight one day in Staten Island when he was approached by several white officers. Having some previous encounters with the police over the sell of “loose cigarettes”, the police proceeded to question a then-frustrated Garner. He was then tackled to the ground while being put in a choke hold maneuver. Garner continuously stated that he could not breathe, somewhere around 11 times. He died.
Now because this entire incident was caught on video, you would think that there would be an easy indictment for the officer who applied a banned chokehold on a citizen who ended up dying, right? Well apparently not. Citizens across the country, legal analysts and scholars, even former President George W. Bush, were all baffled by the grand jury decision that failed to produce at least an indictment on that officer.
Since the jury in Staten Island decided that the white police officer would not stand trial for his crime, protesters have broken out across the country. Many younger citizens upset at the injustice have gone out of their way to create a disturbance and make their voices heard. They chant things such as, “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace… no racist police”. Peaceful protests have continued throughout the country and will continue until change is made.
Now, the Real Talk…
The grand jury was nothing short of disappointing. Some of the talk coming out of the Michael Brown killing was that there were several contradictory statements from witnesses. The Brown family has been advocating for a law that requires police officers to wear body cameras so that future events would be captured on video, thus serving as a deterrent as cops would begin to think twice about their actions. President Obama recently requested hundreds of millions of dollars for body cameras on officers. At first, I was 100% for that. Now, we are all realizing that the ad reality is that this will not help. Eric Garner’s killing was captured on video, before, during, and after. As clear as the video was in regards to what happened, along with the medical examiner’s report showing that Garner was killed by homicide via chokehold, we still did not see an indictment of the police officer.
What’s worse is that the other officers involved were given immunity, thus would never be given the opportunity to face charges for their participation in Garner’s killing. Then the officer who did the actual chokehold was not indicted, even though the New York Police Department banned that maneuver over twenty years ago. At the very least, the officer should have been indicted on some sort of manslaughter due to his negligence. Many would argue the intentions of the officer or if his actions were racially motivated. However, he use a banned move and as a result the person he was apprehending died. Ultimately, it was his fault and he should face trial.
Many Americans are very split about what they think about these issues. There have been so many people that I have talked to or seen on television saying the most ridiculous things about the events of that day. We have people like Congressman Peter King (R-NY) saying that Garner’s obesity was what caused his death and a “normal sized” man would have been able to withstand that illegal choke. Well, the problem with that, Mr. King, is that Garner was the same weight the day before he died, but it was the action of being choked that killed him. I’ve heard others say, “if he couldn’t breathe, he wouldn’t be able to speak at all.” Well, the problem with that claim is that he said that he couldn’t breathe over 10 times, and he actually died – so he really couldn’t breathe.
It’s also interesting how many people dispute the medical examiner who ruled Garner’s death a homicide via choking. With that, it is absolutely ridiculous that this police officer will not face charges and be prosecuted for his actions. Some have pointed to the possibility of him facing federal civil right’s charges from the Justice Department. While that is encouraging to have some sort of hope, I fear that there is a sort of false hope. I can remember back to Attorney General Eric Holder announcing that he was filing civil right’s charges. But nothing has happened with that, these years later.
The larger conversation that needs to be had here is the fact that to many of us in a younger generation, it feels like we are in the midst of what we hear the 1960s were like. This so-called “post-racial” society is a farce and many people of color can point out many instances of racism (overt, inherent, institutionalized, etc.) that still exist in 2014. And the fact that many young Black males are being slaughtered by white cops (and many more not seen on everyday television), provides a feel of the fear Black people possessed of police, because of constant harassment and sometimes, seen in the case of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, ending in murder. It is increasingly clear that Black lives do not matter because these cops are getting away with killing someone. I hope these peaceful protests persist and that action is taken to protect ALL lives under the law.
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