We here in the New York City metropolitan area have known about the Eric Garner case for some time. You’ve seen one of the video clips, with the cops on top of him as he’s yelling for air.
If the outcome hadn’t been so tragic, it would almost be laughable the way this particular gentle giant brushed off New York City’s Finest as if they were flies, telling them, “Get off me. I’m not gonna let you arrest me.” One of the cops, standing on the back of another, apparently, grabs him from behind, and Garner drags the whole line of cops along like Ewoks in the Star Wars movie trying to take down one of the four-legged armored Empire vehicles.
There’s also the video you did not see – and apparently neither did the grand jury that acquitted Office Daniel Pantaleo. The individual with the camera – or another videographer – got inside the store. He got down on the floor and recorded Garner gasping out, “I can’t breathe!!”
Leaving us New Yorkers and Garden Staters figuring at least one of the cops would be indicted on some degree of manslaughter.
But no. The grand jury delivered a bill of no-indictment.
What was that jury thinking? What could they possibly have seen that we didn’t? Or were they prevented from seeing these videos? True, Garner was arrested 37 times. But the only law he broke (besides resisting arresting) was selling “loosies” – single cigarettes to poor people who can’t afford an entire pack.
What were the cops thinking? Well, being from the New York area (I live in Jersey, I was born in Yonkers, N.Y., one train stop up from the city line; my parents were both from the Bronx), my guess is the cops got carried away.
That’s a paltry excuse for choking a man to death who was selling cigarettes while ignoring all the junkies and other criminals in the Big Apple. He was so big it took – what, eight or ten – cops to bring him down. He was ratted out by local minority business owners who complained Garner was ruining his business. Plus, the Nanny/Empire State took umbrage at its tax laws, designed to make lots of loot and discourage smoking, being defied.
According to Rush Limbaugh, a black precinct chief sent the cops out to arrest Garner, and they were under the supervision of a black female sergeant. Also, out of 238,000 misdemeanor arrests occurred in New York in the past year, none of which resulted in the death of a suspect.
So we can thank the Nanny State for its contribution to Garner’s death. Was the jury directed to consider that Officer Pantaleo was under orders to arrest this guy? The NYPD policy forbids the use of chokeholds, but they’re not illegal. The one Pantaleo used, which he learned in training, was not supposed to cause a fatality. But it did.
But it did. Garner is dead. Whether or not he had contributory health issues – asthma, heart disease, whatever – we should not have to be discussing his death today. Pantaleo’s supporters say it was a legal take-down and that when Garner said, “I can’t breathe” he was talking, which meant he was breathing.
Anybody who’s had asthma, COPD, pneumonia, or a heart attack, or even just an anxiety attack, can tell you that while your breathing is failing, you can certainly talk, although it’s more like a rasp than a yell. Watching Garner face-to-face via that video sure gave me the willies. This is not a clear-cut case where you can simply brush off the death.
Stuff happens is just not going to cut it. Maybe Pantaleo and the other cops were acting on orders. If Pantaleo can’t be held legally responsible for Garner’s, then somebody up the line must.
It sounds like the cops, encountering a huge, linebacker-sized suspect resisting arrest, went into Giants mode. Suddenly, they were on the field at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. rather than on a street in Staten Island.
So, the race card looks like this: the suspect was black, the arresting officers were white, the supervisor and precinct chief were black, and the business owners were minority. There are minorities and then there are minorities, not all of whom, shall we say, like one another?
This homicide sounds like it was accidental. But not wholly free from accountability, as Officer Wilson, who was defending himself, was. Pantaleo has been suspended. But the accountability shouldn’t stop there. This is a case where community counseling may be in order.
Garner was a martyr not to a racist state but to a bureaucratic state. He was being arrested for being bad for business, for giving the State of New York (which issues the license and the stamp to sell cigarettes) competition.
Garner’s death is a more righteous cause to protest than Michael Brown, a true criminal. We hope the Black community notices the distinction. Michael Brown, high on pot, robbed a store, strode down the middle of a busy road, and attacked a police officer. Eric Garner was selling “loosies” in front of established businesses, owned, you will note, by minorities.
The protesters would gain more sympathy if they changed the slogan they chant and print on their signs. Yelling “No justice, no peace” is no way to get people on your side. Neither is making an issue of race. Yelling “racist cops” only puts a barrier between you and people of other skin colors who might otherwise sympathize with an Eric Garner.
Burning buildings will not avail the activists. They’re the ones who tried to make a coalition of all minorities. Some of those minorities became successful and have no sympathy with less successful. All of them voted Democrat, ensuring an enduring bureaucratic, administrative state which went ahead and restricted, partially by taxation, the sale of cigarettes. They’re working on other items such as soda and salt, which will create, if you will pardon the expression, a “black market” for these goods.
Find another slogan, make sure the cause is righteous, and we’ll support you here on this blog.
Our sympathies to Eric Garner’s widow and his family.
Smoking cigarettes is generally a death sentence. Selling them shouldn’t be.