Justice for Americans with darker skin has been caught in a choke-hold

eric garnerEric Garner died for selling cigarettes without paying taxes on them. He was unarmed. He did not charge the cop. He did not “look like a demon.” He did nothing to threaten the officers’ persons, there was no credible physical threat coming from him.

We can say that with confidence because it all happened on video. You can go watch Eric Garner’s last moments right now. You can watch that cop end his life. Nothing Garner did warranted the level of force that was used on him.

“Imagine Enron CFO Andrew Fastow coming out of his office to find police waiting for him. He tells them to leave him alone and eff off. They tell him again that he must comply with being arrested and he continues to give them attitude

One of the officers then puts him in a chokehold. He gasps that he cannot breathe, but the officer does not stop. After he drops to the ground in his $2000 suit, the cops see that he is not responsive and they call 911. They do not attempt to resuscitate him.

A coworker catches it all on her iPhone. I think most people could not imagine such a scene, but can easily imagine and have become immune to parallel stories.” ~ Caroline Murray, Montclair State University

Twitter began trending with #ICantBreathe, #blacklivesmatter, #EricGarner, and the most revealing hashtag, #CrimingWhileWhite, where white users tweeted out how they escaped consequences for their criminal actions. Drug possession, DUIs, mouthing off at the cops, you name it. Multiple transgressions that far exceeded the ultimate punishment Garner received.

“Andrew Faston didn’t sell cigarettes illegally – he screwed hundreds of employees and the U.S. taxpayer of billions of dollars. Both are crimes, but how often do the higher socioeconomic criminals end up with their face in the pavement?” ~ Caroline Murray

imageThe usual suspects are out trying to defend the non-indictment of course, but their voices are faltering now. It’s tough for them to push the “violent thug” message over and over again when Garner’s death is on video. But they’re plowing ahead with that anyway.

Oh, the guy who shot the video? He got indicted.

Also, don’t forget about that cop who got fired for choking his suspect. His white suspect. Who lived. No, but go ahead, scream about how that’s different. We know it’s different. That’s the point.

In the meantime, putting cameras on cops is becoming a thing. One theory was that this will help cops, well, police their own behavior. Also it will shed light on police activity and help the public overcome their apathy over incidents of brutality.

The officer who killed Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, had already cost his employers a hefty police brutality settlement and was allowed to remain on the force. He has now killed a man on camera. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death as a homicide.

eric garnerYes, it was a chokehold. One defense for Pantaleo was that he was using a headlock. Problem with that is that a headlock doesn’t involve your forearm crossing the front of the throat. That’s a chokehold, the usage of which is ostensibly banned for NYPD Officers.

Makes you wonder if he could get away with killing someone right in front of the Grand Jury.

What the Garner incident did prove is that cameras will overcome public apathy. There is anger in the streets in New York City. In Ferguson. In America. Hot on the heels of the travesty in Ferguson, unspooling as we speak, another outrage.

As the next few days unfurl, the explanations will stumble forth. It’s difficult to imagine that they will be either sufficient or acceptable. Another black man killed. Another white cop walks away. This time there was no “shaky” witness accounts to discredit. This time it was on camera.

The camera made no difference to the Grand Jury. What that means is that if there’s a difference to be made, it’s going to have to be made by all of us.

“There is a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices, of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious, but they are not important in comparison with the attitude of the “Whites” toward their fellow citizens of darker complexion.” ~ Albert Einstein

Chad R. MacDonald has a degree in English literature from Cape Breton University and subsequently received a full scholarship to AMDA in New York City. He is a former security professional, veteran of the hospitality industry, and experienced in both the arts as well as administration.He has been writing all his life, likes baseball, hockey, literature, science, the arts, and marine photography.Chad lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.


  1. […] to their Mayor in public, imagine what they do to black men in private. Chilling premise, no? Justice hasn’t been able to breathe for a very long time now, and the Lynch Mob is a perfect example of why. This is exactly the kind of attitude people were […]

  2. Police do not live in the neighborhood that they patrol…they have in effect become Occupiers in an environment similiar to what could be defined as a prison …Control rather than Patrol…Profile instead of serve. …Until Community and Police again align interests. ..the Urban setting will remain at odds and under siege

  3. “Rights” and “justice” are fairy tales. We should be grateful for the cops. They must be allowed the satisfaction of killing a few of us every once in a while, especially if we won’t shut up and do as we are told.

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