Thursday, December 4, 2014

Eric Garner

I'm going to be honest with you here: My mood is just too awful to write about movies or comics today. Not only do we have the news that the officer who performed a chokehold on Eric Garner enough to kill him, but I actually found that the two videos from the scene online. I'm sad and I'm frustrated and I have no idea how to channel either of those feelings.

I try hard to keep an open mind about these sorts of things, to allow as many people the benefit of the doubt as possible. However, I'm not quite sure I can even begin to wrap my head around these events. I saw someone die today that was very, very far away from deserving it. He went out without an ounce of violence or intimidation in him and instead a simple whimper of "I can't breathe".

When the EMTs arrive, their first response is to, like, poke at him. Yo dawg quit fakin it. Time to get up. That may have upset me the most.

Race, race, race. Again, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I don't think any of the officers there had a plan in their heads, like, "Let's get this n* and act like he threatened us". I'm sure two things were going through their heads: This guy is dangerous and this chokehold couldn't possibly do any harm or come back to haunt me in any way.

When we talk about incidents such as these and police brutality, it's that "This guy is dangerous," mindset that we need to fight against. Being conscientious and openly racist is thing that isn't allowed in our society today, but thinking that black people are scary is. You can't openly admit to hating black people, so nobody does. You can however get this subconscious impression in your head about black people and the law. Nobody is immune to this. I'll repeat: Nobody is immune to this. The thing is though, is that if you're going to be a publicly-funded defender of the peace, in possession of lots of mortally dangerous gadgetry, and supported by other people just like you, you need to be held to a higher standard than us gunless schmucks. People with more power and more weapons have a greater responsibility to be fair-minded.

It should be troubling to everyone that a police officer decided to attack this guy. Yeah, Garner was yelling at the officer, but didn't do anything threatening or even say anything threatening. From what I understand, Garner attempted to break up a fight that was going on, and the police were asking him about selling cigarettes. If anyone out there can correct me on this, please do, but until that moment, I remain convinced that selling cigarettes illegally is probably more of a finable offense rather than an arresting one.

But I suppose because the guy was confronting an officer, the police felt the need to restrain him. Why is that? See the previous comment about Garner looking more dangerous than he actually was. Moreover, I guess the police officer didn't like getting yelled at or spoken to that way, which is understandable, because nobody would enjoy being publicly embarrassed like that. Afterwards, the officers gathered attempt to use their power and control to keep this guy from embarrassing them any further. Again, stuff that we all feel, but if you have the ability to kill someone and get away from it, you need to act better than the rest of us.

Finally, like I mentioned when the decision about indicting Darren Wilson came out, these events open up questions as to whether the officer was behaving in the best way. Somebody is dead when they didn't have to die. I think that's reason enough to ask some questions about why and how that happened, and at the very least discourage other officers from engaging in other aggressive behavior. There's a big difference between, "Imma choke this guy and it'll be fine," and "I'm not even going to lay a finger on this dude unless I absolutely have to because I hate going to prison and/or losing my job."
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