Saturday, December 6, 2014

On Matters of Eric Garner's Death

I had planned to write about Ray Rice and his reinstatement into NFL. After the uproar over Michael Brown's Grand Jury decision and Bill Cosby, it was Ray Rice. I was preparing to type away my opinion after pondering on the subject matter for a few days... And then the Grand Jury's decision on the death of Eric Garner was handed down and the whole nation has been once again engulfed in racial tension. In the midst of them, Bill Cosby resigned as a board member from the Temple University and allegations of molesting women turned now into raping girls. Top it all off, rumors that Kayne West will quit the music business to become a full-time fashion designer has me spinning and not in a good way. It is no wonder that newly released photographs of George Clooney's wedding haven't been trending...

I was in Carson City, Nevada, two nights ago for dinner. I found myself in a Chinese restaurant, Golden Dragon, with a bottle of Tsingtao while waiting for my food to arrive... I happen to overhear on a conversation about what has been happening with Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Average working-class folks voicing their opinions and there was no surprise there. This group of diners felt that the police were simply doing their jobs and protecting themselves. If we can't let the police protect themselves, then how will they combat the criminals? Isn't their safety more important than the safety of those who threaten our law-and-order? The issue isn't so much black-and-white as either side make it out to be... And, no pun intended on that.

Safety of each police officers is important. After all, they are here to protect and serve our communities. I don't think any intelligent person would argue with that. The issue on hand is... Do Caucasian police officers simply feel more threatened when they are in confrontation with African-American males? Would these police officers have used less force had Michael Brown and Eric Garner not been Black? Did stereotyping of African-American males in our society play a role in each of these deaths? Simply put, African-American communities aren't angry because Caucasian police officers used force to kill two of their own. They are outraged because they believe Michael Brown and Eric Garner would be alive if their skin colors had not been dark.

I watched the video of Eric Garner and Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo like many Americans, and I cannot say if it was justified or not. I will side with the police stating that Garner having said that he couldn't breathe is not a sign that he couldn't breathe. Garner was resisting an arrest... He may have been in poor health, but heavy body isn't necessary a sign of that. My brother is overweight and he heavily smokes and drinks, and he is healthy as a horse. You can't judge health by appearance and thus expecting any police officer, including Caucasian police officers, to be able to determine someone's health on appearance is unreasonable.

Did Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo use NYPD prohibited chokehold? Officer Pantaleo claims that he used the take-down tactic taught at the police academy, while outrage was fueled because it looks as though he used the chokehold in the physical confrontation. Does it really matter if Officer Pantaleo used take-down or chokehold? This question only clutters what really matters... Did he use deadly force simply because of Eric Garner's skin color? Had Garner's skin color been lighter, would he be alive today? How Eric Garner died shouldn't be the subject, but why he died and the only person that holds the truth is Officer Pantaleo. Unless there are evidence of Pantaleo being a racist, reasonable doubt will remain and no trial will bring closure in death of Eric Garner.