Last week, Eric Garner was subdued on a Staten Island street corner by five NYPD officers, one of whom placed him in a choke hold. Mr. Garner died, likely from cardiac arrest, as a result of the encounter. On Monday, Mychal Denzel Smith addressed this tragedy in a short editorial for The Nation, lamenting the loss and calling for more scrutiny of police action.
What more is there to say? What more can be said after the death of a black person at the hands of police? We’ve heard it all time and again, followed by promises to do better, to change the culture of policing, to foster better relationships with black communities. Yet, we still end up here.
For Smith, Garner’s death is part of a devastating and immensely disappointing pattern of racism and brutality perpetuated by law enforcement.
[T]his isn’t about one officer or even this one investigation. It’s not even about the more than 1,000 civilian complaints of NYPD employing illegal chokeholds since 2009. This about the disregard for black life and humanity that fuels policing. It’s about the amount of authority police have over our lives, deciding when and where we die. It’s about the daily harassment, the constant fear and the perpetual mourning. We can’t breathe.
The officer who placed Mr. Garner in a choke hold will likely be punished. But the pattern is widespread, and what can be done to effectively interrupt that pattern? A person can be fined or suspended. How does one reprimand a culture?
–Drew Whitcup, Zeteo Contributing Writer
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