Thursday, December 4, 2014

OpEd: Eric Garner's Death Should Not Have Happened

By Jessica Thomas Lewis

I am enraged about Michael Brown and Ferguson.  I am enraged about Eric Garner.  I am enraged that a 63-year-old white man stood on the the streets in Kalamazoo, MI with a rifle and had a 40 minute encounter with the police, was not arrested and got his gun back the next day.  I'm enraged about the 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, shot point blank in Cleveland, within two seconds of police arriving because he was holding a toy gun.  I am enraged about white privilege.  I am enraged and saddened by the plethora of black men being shot in the streets by police officers, and in Eric Garner's case, choked to death.  I am a white woman, 40 years old.  And I will not stay quiet about this.

I want you to see this.  Watch this video of Eric Garner, dead or nearly dead, on the street.  Listen to the words of the man taking the video.  Eric Garner was killed by a police officer and it Should. Not. Have. Happened.  It's happening everywhere, it's happening frequently and it is unacceptable.

I cannot believe this happened.

It should not have happened.  Eric Garner had stopped a fight on the streets.  And then he was killed on the streets.  Trial, judge and jury right there on the streets of Staten Island.

The chokehold is prohibited by the NYPD.  Eric Garner was held in a choke hold until he stopped breathing, right there on the streets.  In front  of everybody and on video.  The man is dead.  The medical examiner has declared it a homicide.  And there is no indictment.    There are no repercussions.  
The police officer is above the law.

It breaks my heart.  

When is this going to stop?

Over and over again, black men.  Dead on the streets.  At a much higher rate than any other race.

When is this going to stop?

The above video is difficult to watch.  It is 7:35 of watching Mr. Garner take his last breaths.  
It should not have happened.

The below clip is 8:45.  If you have the time, you should watch the whole thing.  If you're pressed for time,  you can start the video below at 2:06 and see the impetus for Eric Garner's death.  You can see the reason why he's dead.  It. Should. Not. Have. Happened.

This is not a one-time incident of police brutality (especially in this area of Staten Island).  There is a pattern, every day in cities all across America, of black men being tried on the streets.  Being pulled over and ticketed at a higher rate, being harassed when they have done nothing wrong.  I've seen it with my own eyes, in person.  I don't buy into media hype.  I do buy into right and wrong, fairness and unfairness.  What was the law being enforced with Eric Garner?  What was he resisting?  On the video, (above), what evidence do you see that the police had any reason to question him, to harass him, to kill him?   The police have a difficult job.  Police, very often, have a thankless job.  I am a supporter of the police and pray for their safety.  I do not, however, have tolerance of obvious harassment based on skin color.  I am not going to accept it or keep quiet about it.  Ever.  Silence is acceptance and this is not acceptable.  Eric Garner was killed on the streets of Staten Island.  It could have been stopped and it should have been stopped.

Click here to see 11 important facts.  

No matter what the cops were supposedly restraining him for, he didn't do anything that deserved for him to die on the street.  Eric Garner was in no way, shape or form resisting and there was no just cause whatsoever.  The coroner declared a homicide.  There.  Now I've played judge and jury.  I saw it with my own eyes and Eric Garner's death Should. Not. Have. Happened.

There are protests across the country.  
There are protests here locally, in the Piedmont Triad.  

Silence is acceptance.  When you see a wrong, speak out.   

Speak out. 

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