The Unfortunate Case (or lack thereof) of Eric Garner

This past Wednesday, Dec. 3, a Staten Island Grand Jury decided not to indict a white officer in the killing of an unarmed black man named Eric Garner. The entire confrontation was caught on video and the last moments of Garners life can be seen here (WARNING: Disturbing footage). Garner is being accused of selling single-cigarettes (who knew that was a crime?) he asks the officers to stop harassing him as they do everyday, he’s practically pleading them to “just leave me alone.” They go to grab him, he doesn’t fight back, though because he is a man of considerable size a bunch of officers try to take him down to the ground one comes from behind choking him. As the officer is choking him he exclaims 11 times “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” The officer ignores his cries…Garner dies within minutes.

Again, this is all caught on video. Yet, a grand jury couldn’t find it in themselves to at least say “hey, I think this deserves to go to trial.” They aren’t convicting the officer, they aren’t sentencing him–just agreeing that Garner and his family deserve due process at the very least. The fact that they couldn’t come to that decision is sad.

Unfortunately, extrajudicial killing of unarmed black people is not an uncommon occurrence. When saw it with Mike Brown, then recently a 12 year old child by the name of Tamir Rice (we’ll get to that in another post) and now here with Eric Garner. Those are just the most famous cases within the past 3 months. According to a recent study by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, in the United States a black man is killed extrajudicially by officers every 28 hours. That’s a disturbing trend. To make matters worse with the non-indictment of both Darren Wilson in the Mike Brown case and now Eric Garner’s killer, cops kill unarmed African-Americans with impunity.

I’ll grant that in the Michael Brown case there was conflicting witness reports and a likely struggle between the officer and the victim, however, in the Eric Garner case there are no conflicting witness reports, the medical examiner called it “a homicide” and the entire ordeal is caught on video camera. Still, America continues to teach us from Emmett Till to Eric Garner, from lynchings to mass incarceration…that black lives do not matter. In the words of rapstress Tink, “my people shed blood on these acres you had stole, now my people shedding blood on the gravel left in the cold.” We shall never forget, the revolution will not be televised.


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