Eric Garner’s Death is About More Than A Cigarette

On July 17th, 2014, a group of New York City police officers confronted New York resident Eric Garner on a Staten Island NY sidewalk. The officers accused Mr. Garner of selling “looses” (single cigarettes). Eyewitnesses corroborate one another’s statements that unanimously have Mr. Garner as just breaking up a fight. Mr. Garner a father of six attempted to explain to the officers that he was not selling loose cigarettes. Mr. Garner referenced being tired of being harassed by the police.

“I’m tired of this shit”

The officers closed in on the unarmed Mr. Garner as he was gesturing with outstretched palms. One officer, wearing a green shirt with the number 99 (later identified as Officer Daniel Pantaleo) on the back of the shirt lunges for Mr. Garner’s neck and wraps an arm around it. As officer Pantaleo secures a chokehold on Mr. Garner’s neck, other officers pounce and grab unto Mr. Garner wrestling him to the concrete pavement. With four officers, holding Mr. Garner on the sidewalk officer Pantaleo releases the choke and uses his hand to force and hold Mr. Garner’s head against the sidewalk.

Mr. Garner is heard rapidly pleading, “I can’t breathe” at least 8 times.

Then Mr. Garner went silent and motionless on that Staten Island sidewalk with his killer and his accomplices casually looking on. None of the officers showed a sense of urgency or unrest toward the lackadaisical handcuffed man lying in front of them. EMT personnel were summoned. The EMT personnel presented attitudes one would see if the victim on the sidewalk had scrapped a knee. No rushing in, no yelling, no screaming, no immediate chest pumps or mouth to mouth, no urgency to remove the cuffs from the comatose human and get him on a stretcher and a fast ride to the nearest ER. Everyone on the sidewalk at that moment with training to revive unconscious human beings, gawked and gazed at, and meandered around Mr. Garner as if he was some sort of spectacle.

At this point, the handcuffs should have been removed form Mr. Garner and placed on Officer Pantaleo. Officer Pantaleo’s accomplices should have been cuffed and made to wait for a paddy wagon. The paddy wagon should have given them all a lift to the nearest booking precinct where they should have been arrested processed and locked up. That is not what happened.

Mr. Garner’s murder was captured live by amateur videographer Ramsey Orta yet his killer and his accomplices remained at large from the time of the murder pending “internal and independent” investigations. Had Mr. Orta not captured the chain of events, Mr.’ Garner’s life would have been wrapped, packaged and sold to the world for the price of a fabricated loose cigarette. A hard working man just trying to make his way in a city speckled with murders, rapists, drug dealers, burglars, molesters, and other members of crime’s underbelly, killed by the very ones sworn to protect him from the aforementioned predators of society.

On Friday August 1st 2014, Eric Garner’s July 17 death was officially ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner’s office.
Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman Julie Bolcer stated his death was caused by the “compression of his neck (chokehold), compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” Asthma, heart disease and obesity were also contributing factors, Bolcer said.

The medical examiner’s office confirmed what the captured video had showed the world for days. Eric Garner was murdered. Why was he murdered? It is not for the reasons the murders tried to spin and the media so readily adopted. Eric Garner could have been on that sidewalk selling assault rifles, and that still would not have been the reason he died. He could have been selling Bibles or as it appears, simply minding his own business and none of those reasons would support his killing.

Make no mistake about it-Eric Garner did not die because of a 75-cent cigarette.

The loose cigarette makes for a nice sound byte, attention-getting spin off shock and awe effects. It is also a proverbial escape avenue for the cops and EMTs involved in the death of Eric Garner. Eric Garner died because he was a Black Man that stood up for himself against officers whose egos were running amok with demons of race-laced testerone. Eric Garner died because he stood his ground (sound familiar) against an oppressive and murderous street regime. Everybody seems to miss one very important point that doubly underscores the tragedy of Eric Garner. He did not confront anyone, on the contrary, he was confronted and when trying to explain himself he was wrestled to the ground and subsequently his death. Insolent were his attackers too. They knew their actions were being filmed. Yet they went about killing a man as if it was business as usual.

Actions by these NYPD officers reflect upon questionable police recruitment, training, policies, and overall police attitudes in regards to citizens of color. Racism birthed by ignorance and stereotypes within society conditions the subconscious minds of some officers to perceive people of color as violent and guilty to begin with. This counterfeit conjecture procreates unwarranted pro active and gross over policing of people of color. Remember, Eric Garner wasn’t interrogated, he was confronted. There is a difference.

Ever growing SWAT style offensive and aggressive law enforcement tactics terrorize citizens into a perpetual state of mistrust and fear toward police. Military invasions on bloody foreign soil recognize and respect a higher standard of human rights than some of America’s own law enforcement franchises. In the Military (the people in the business of killing) even POW’s are afforded medical assistance. The global portrait of the late Eric Garner in captivity shows an attitude from police toward humans of color that falls way short of the one we afford our worst foreign enemy.

These emerging Gestapo policing tactics are legitimatized and packaged for public pacification by conspiring far right wing media outlets political and law enforcement affiliates. The collusion between media, lawmakers, street officers and a caste based prison system thrives by subjugating already oppressed and stereotyped communities. The oppressed are the most vulnerable and least capable of defending themselves against the rabid abuse of latitude wearing a badge affords some officers.

NYPD reemerges as a perennial leader in cop on black crime however; they are not alone in the trampling of people of color’s rights and lives. These extrajudicial atrocities occur nationwide. Some cities, especially in the South, snare black people in disproportionate numbers to the size of their black populations. However, no matter where black people go they are not immune from violent confrontations by law enforcement.

The Garner video, and hundreds of other unrelated yet similar incidents substantiate beliefs and claims that police confronting individuals in these communities are doing so with a generalized psychological boiler plate of the individual they’re interacting with in mind. These murderous representatives of law enforcement operate with impunity, even when there is truth, eyewitnesses and videotape.

There is however optimism that unlawful aggressive and biased policing can be corralled into check. Washington, D.C., which had the nation’s highest rate of police shootings during the 1990s, cut their rate of police shootings dramatically through a combination of training and accountability. There too are small but growing numbers of police departments like Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. that focused the decisions police and supervisors took leading up to violent episodes on the street.

Public outrage and response is going to have to be ongoing toward the treatment of people of color by law enforcement. The outrage and response is going to have to come from the communities the rogue regimes operate in. A failure to hold officers and departments responsible for the Eric Garners, Shaun Bells, James Deon Lennoxs, Tarika Wilsons, Ramarley Grahams, Jonathon Ferrells, and hundreds of other police crimes against people of color, will only facilitate a proliferation of the tactics that disproportionately abuse, maim, and kill citizens of color.

Additional Notes & Quotes

A study released in 2013 from the the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an anti-racist activist organization, found that police officers, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes killed at least 313 Black people in 2012 — meaning one Black person was killed in the U.S. by law enforcement roughly every 28 hours.

Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.” Radley Balko, author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop

Coupled with the paramilitary design of the police bureaucracy itself, the police give in to what is already a serious problem in the ranks: the belief that the increasing use of power against a citizen is always justified no matter the violation. The police don’t understand that in many instances they are the cause of the escalation and bear more responsibility during an adverse outcome.” -Former Arizona police officer Jon W. McBride

Why Are They Scared of Us ?
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. In 2012, 120 officers were killed in the line of duty. By contrast 313 African Americans were killed by police in 2012. Of the 313 killings, the report found that 275 of them or 88% were cases of excessive force. Only 8% were not considered excessive as they involved cases were suspects shot at, wounded, or killed a police and/or others. –SOURCE

Police and other extrajudicial killers typically justify their murders with a variety of reports that end with them “having no choice, but to use deadly force to defend themselves or others” Its difficult to know to what extent they believe their rationalizations. – Operation Ghetto Storm


Author: Geo Gee

I'm a curious one that finds politics, social issues, and diverse progressive solutions interesting. I believe information and education are the most powerful weapons one can arm himself with. Those two dynamics alone open the doors to opportunities. I also subscribe to each one teach one for a better world for all.

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