A humble casually dressed African-American man, Eric Garner, is approached by four casually dressed white officers. Garner cries out telling the officers, "Every time you see me, you will harass me. I'm minding my business officer. Please leave me alone." And all that was said in a cry-out for help. He didn't sound confronting at all. Two police officers grab him on both sides. All he says in response to that is, "Please, don't touch me." Garner doesn't attack the officers. Four officers then pull Garner to the ground, one holding him into a "chokehold." In less than 30 seconds into a choke-hold, Garner cries out "I can't breathe," (several times), but the officer who put him into a choke-hold press his head on the ground, without stopping the inhumane treatment imposed on him. And then, it was all over. Garner was no more in less than 3 minutes.
Mind you, that’s not a narration of another Hollywood blockbuster about racism in the United States of America. That’s something that happened for real on a sidewalk in New York. Like, I still can’t believe it. I need to pinch myself thousand times to be able to digest the way in which Eric Garner lost his life. And he didn’t die in the hands of some thugs which perhaps would be easy to grasp. And yeah, that piece of narration is not for folks like you and me who can decode visuals in the video, but for those critics who find it hard to understand why people across the length and breadth of America have come out on the streets protesting police violence and the legal decision to not indict the officers on any counts. The visuals of that the video is brutally so difficult to watch that I find it difficult even to embed it in my blog post.
Reports indicate that Garner was approached by officers for selling "loose cigarettes," but then, does anyone need to lose his life for selling loose cigarettes. Besides, it doesn’t begin and end with Eric Garner. Similar incidents revisit us again and again. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice are a few names that come to my mind as far as I can remember. And this mind is a stupid thing. It just seems to heal over time. It just seems to forget things over time. And I won’t be shocked if it would soon be business as usual again till another black man dies in a similar freaking way.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio was prompt to come out and openly address this tragic incident in the city. As a preventive measure, he was prompt to propose retraining and body cameras for police officers in the city. But then, when the video - that was shot by a person who happened to be there when Eric Garner was put into chokehold - didn’t do much, how would videos from those body cameras do anything to prevent violence. And retraining is sure good. But can anyone be trained to change a mindset?
Just like I don’t understand royalty in the United Kingdom, where you have a Queen, a King to be, a princess and her charming prince for real, I will never understand racism in 2015 America. Isn’t America the most powerful country in the world? Yeah, I think that’s what the world says and that’s what I have been reading over the years. So how is this so-called power measured? Is it the GDP, technology (like the recent drone technology that will allow Amazon to drop packages at your doorstep), bullish stock market, the supremacy of our defense capability…or is it about people’s welfare, liberty, and equal rights? Wait, now that is a tough question no? I think only God has an answer to that. Hey God, can you send your guardian angel on earth again to give us an answer to all our problems…plzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Am so awe-awe-struck with this photo that I thought I should share it with you on this holiday and festive season. Isn’t she beautiful? Isn’t she sweet? Isn’t that the best smile ever. Happy Holidays folks have a good one.