On July 17, 2014 a gentleman by the name of Eric Garner lost his life due to the actions of the NYPD. Prior to the filming of the above video, apparently there was some type of dispute in and around the location this video was being filmed at. As the video opens up, you can see Eric Garner very agitated & worried as he is explaining to the NYPD that he had absolutely nothing to do with whatever altercation took place earlier. The gentleman filming this incident goes on to narrate that Eric Garner was simply breaking up a fight. As the footage continues, at around the 00:33 second mark, the film fades into another scene where the NYPD are trying to restrain Eric Garner. It is not clear as to what lead to the NYPD deciding to attain Eric Garner. A very nervous & scared Eric Garner pleads with the NYPD to not touch him, but his pleads fall on deaf ears as it takes 4 officers to bring him to the ground & subdue him. During the process of trying to restrain Eric Garner, one officer wearing a shirt with the number 99 printed on the back of his t-shirt places Eric Garner in the chokehold as the remaining officers continue to place Eric Garner’s hands behind his back in order to place handcuffs on him. After they get one hand in cuffs, the officers roll Eric Garner onto his stomach in order to get ahold of his other. During that process you can hear Eric Garner’s muffled voice stating in agony that he cannot breathe. After he is completely on his stomach, the officer wearing the shirt with the number 99 on the back releases his chokehold and proceeds to apply pressure to Eric Garner’s head by holding it in place on the concrete while the remaining officers handcuff his other hand. Still again, you can hear Eric Garner obviously exclaiming in pain that he could not breathe. The video then cuts away to a few different scenes but ends up coming back to one scene at around the 1:24 mark where you can see an officer standing over Eric Garner’s body as if it appears he is shaking him slightly and asking if he is alright. From that point, a bystander states “something is wrong with him.” The guy filming this incident then states, “he can’t breathe.” After that, another officer enters the scene to force everybody to back away. In the final seconds of the footage, you can see what appears to be a lifeless Eric Garner laying on his side…then the video stops.
As I watched this video, all I could think about was Radio Raheem from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing…
Same city & eerily, a similar set of circumstances. This is a tragedy & a shame all in one.
I do not know what actually caused this event nor do I currently know what actually lead the NYPD to decide to place Eric Garner in handcuffs especially considering the fact that there were witnesses backing up Eric Garner’s account of him not having anything to do with the incident. What I do know is this…this is another example that will forever serve as a reminder to the Black community that the police department is out of fucking control when it comes to Black people. There is absolutely no reason in the world for why this man died on the pavement like that especially when he was LITERALLY PLEADING FOR HIS LIFE by stating HE COULD NOT BREATHE. When does common fucking sense kick in for law officials in realizing that by trying to apprehend someone, you are potentially putting their life in more danger?! The man was unarmed, he clearly posed no threat at all, yet it took 5 officers to bring him down, & as a result of not one cop listening to his pleas; Eric Garner died.
I’m not an expert, nor do I profess to be one when it comes to the official “legal” way for police officers to apprehend an individual…but I’m pretty fucking sure there has to be a common sense clause when it comes to life or death during the apprehension of an individual. Well, according to the NYPD patrol guide, there is: choke holds are prohibited.
**UPDATE** It is being reported by the NYPD that Eric Garner died of a heart attack while trying to arrest him on SUSPICION of selling untaxed cigarettes….but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me! I’m tired of it! It stops today!”
The second most important part of this video for me is the very beginning when Eric Garner tells one officer, “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me! I’m tired of it! It stops today!” When I heard that statement, I automatically thought about New York City’s Stop & Frisk practice…
A brief, non-intrusive, police stop of a suspect. The Fourth Amendment requires that the police have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed before stopping a suspect. If the police reasonable suspect the person is armed and dangerous, they may conduct a frisk, a quick pat-down of the person’s outer clothing. See Terry v Ohio, 392, US 1, (1967).
Let’s just keep 100% real, the Stop & Frisk policy is nothing more than a policy that grants the NYPD the right to fuck with African-American people…men in particular. I honestly believe Eric Garner when he told the officers that he was tired of them always messing with him every time they see him. Unfortunately, Eric Garner physical description fits the traditional stereotype of the so-called “dangerous black man”. It is stated on the video that Eric Garner weighs 400 lbs and he is a dark skin male. The Stop & Frisk policy may state one thing on paper, but in real world applications, we all know who the law is truly meant for…people who look like Eric Garner. I can only imagine how many times he’s been targeted for just simply being black in New York City. Some of you out there reading this might disagree, but you’re only lying to yourselves in order to prevent you from comprehending the realities a lot of Black men in this country have to deal with.
Remember that whole NYPD Twitter debacle not too long ago where people were showing their “love” for the NYPD? If not, here’s a reminder.
The fear of the police is real within the Black community. The fear of being harmed or dying at the hands of the police is even higher.