At the risk of inflaming already frayed nerves and voluminous readings of a myriad of opinion pieces I have come away with the following conclusion: Eric Garner tempted fate on the day he died by resisting arrest. Who else may have tempted fate was Daniel Pantaleo for his heavy handed use of force. But then again he was just doing his job, following orders and enforcing laws. Or was he? But is that enough to explain why a grand jury declined to indict him?
Before I offer my take, let’s agree (or disagree) that there is something wrong with American justice where an overwhelming amount of those held accountable are black or colored.
Why are these groups so overwhelmingly targeted? Why isn’t all bad behavior and all criminals held to account? For every assault, robbery, murder (which the media slaps on front pages to prove to us how deranged our society is) are countless tales of white collar and corporate crime that goes unnoticed, unspoken of and out of public consciousness (you can thank the media for this but then again, nothing sells better than dramatic gun shots and blood on the street…).
But before we hold the view it’s just justice at work against colored folk why not hold the view that so often it’s justice at work against our own collective civil liberties where increasing mandates and power is given to authorities under various vague guises (freedom act anyone?) to do as they will. Mandates and measures that we as a nation allowed to happen by refusing to protest, challenge (thank the media again who were quick to side with the corporate hegemony, who these days are their own corporate hegemonies too) and put to a rest before they steam rolled into the fracas that they are today.
But lets’ get back to Eric Garner, a career petty criminal with an extensive rap sheet. Whether we like it or not, Eric Garner broke the law. Over and over. And on the day he died he also broke the law.
No you can not sell loose cigarettes on the street and the cops were not singling him out because he was black but because he broke the law. But I agree would they have singled him out had he not being notorious and previously resisted arrest by officers or even black? I will leave that up for you to decide.
At the moment Eric Garner decided to challenge the NYPD about being arrested once again (and why should he? He was caught red handed and should have owned up to it) on July 17th, Garner did something incredibly stupid. He decided to resist arrest. Why not allow oneself to be arrested and then challenge the arrest in a court of law and not on some street pavement? If we demand civil behavior from our cops, who protect us (do they and whom exactly?) then we must also demand civil behavior from members of society too.
But no, Eric Garner resisted and that was a very bad mistake. It opened the door for officers to use force to subdue the man. He was also aware that he was overweight, suffered from a retinue of ailments, asthma and heart disease. Why my dear would you put yourself at such risk and not just obey the bloody law? Even if you disagree with it. A courtroom exists for you to challenge it.
And here’s the crunch. The chokehold. Was Daniel Pantaleo’s use of it illegal? Actually no.
nypost: First, while “chokeholds” are banned by NYPD regulation, they’re not illegal under state law when used by a cop during a lawful arrest. So much for criminal charges, given that nobody seriously disputes the legitimacy of the arrest.
We should also bear some awareness that whether we like it or not, cops are indeed treated “differently” from ordinary citizens in deadly-force cases, because the law itself that confers that privilege.
The law gives cops the benefit of every reasonable doubt in the good-faith performance of their duties — and who would really have it any other way? Would you put yourself as a cop in harms way if it wasn’t? Would you expect cops to put the public’s interests first if they always held the fear that they would be held as purveyors of criminal behavior?
Can we not accept the idea that violence begets violence and sometimes cops are forced into situations that a backseat driver can always deem inappropriate. And yet one can’t help but wonder did Daniel Pantaleo go beyond and above the call of duty with his heavy handed use of force? Or was he simply doing his job? Doing what is expected of him?
And here’s a fact that we ought to pay attention to. In 2013 there were 228,000 misdemeanor arrests in New York City in 2013, the last year for which there are audited figures, and every one of them had at least the potential to turn into an Eric Garner-like case. None did.
But before we just sod off and agree or disagree that Eric Garner tempted fate let us agree on the real crux of the problem which the majority of the media is side stepping: that justice and civil liberties are heavily skewered towards corporate interests and it so easy to bear focus on a violent easy to see act as opposed to the calculating ongoing ruthless behavior of corporates who continue to wreak carnage on society under the guise of freedom and economic liberties …and the heavy handed application of laws which only serve to limit those very freedoms.