“When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,” says the wife of 43 year-old Eric Garner, whose videotaped death at the hands of New York Police on Staten Island last Thursday is causing outrage among members of the local community and spreading throughout the nation at-large. Though the incident happened shortly after 5:00 P.M., Esaw wasn’t notified until much later at night when she was called to come to the hospital to identify her loved one’s body. When she arrived in the paramedic’s room and saw Eric Garner’s body, she began speaking to him, hoping to God he wasn’t yet gone. “I saw him with his eyes wide open and I said, ‘Babe, don’t leave me, I need you.’ But he was already gone.” Afterword, she confronted the police officers and asked them to explain what had happened to her, but they greeted her with indifference. Now, having seen how the entire scene played out on video, Mrs. Garner believes she knows why. “They’re covering their asses,” she explained. “They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him.”
Everyone who witnessed the scene, aside from the police officers, unanimously stated that Eric Garner was on the sidewalk in front of the Bay Street Beauty Shop that day because he was breaking up a fight. When two plainclothes and completely unwarranted police officers arrived on the scene, however, they immediately began accusing Garner of illegally selling “un-taxed cigarettes.” (You’ve got to be kidding me!) (*) Mr. Garner and and his friend Ramsey Orta, the 22 year-old who captured it all on video, informed the officers that all he did was break up a fight and was not selling loose cigarettes to anybody. But the NYPD officers showed little regard for the truth, and insisted that Garner was a liar. This isn’t the first time he’s been harassed by New York police however. After all, it is an organization which dedicates itself to making the lives of African American men and women unbearable by constantly subjecting them to the most humiliating “stop-and-frisk” searches without any cause whatsoever. (These searches, conducted almost exclusively on Black and Latino men, rarely yield anything to begin with.) “I didn’t do shit! I was just minding my own business. Just leave me alone,” says Garner to the invasive police, one of whom poses with his arms folded, looking like the huge peckerwood he is. That officer is Daniel Pantaleo, who apparently has a history of targeting and harassing Black men, in addition to falsifying reports in order to have them thrown in jail. In two previous cases, Pantaleo took pleasure in ordering Black men to “pull their pants and underwear down; squat and cough” in the street. Taking this into account, it is entirely justified that Eric Garner expressed his frustration by saying, “Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!” That is when things took a violent turn for the worse.
The police officers apparently felt that Garner’s voicing his displeasure with their intrusiveness was grounds for an arrest (more like a scheme to collect more bail money). As the first cop moved in with the handcuffs, a frustrated Garner pulled his hands away (not toward) the cop and pleaded, “Don’t touch me, please.” Daniel Peckerwood Pantaleo then sneak attacked Mr. Garner from behind, wrapping his arms around Garner’s neck and placing him in a choke-hold before violently slamming his head into the ground. By this time there are at least seven officers on the scene and all of them are assisting in attacking this one man. (The only other of these officers whose name has been revealed to the press is that of Justin Damico.) A witness to these events, 36 year-old Taisha Allen recalls how Pantaleo had “his knee on Mr. Garner’s back and was ordering him to put his hands behind his back”, all this while still slamming Garner’s head into the sidewalk and pressing his neck down with all the might he had. That the disgraced officer was cutting off Garner’s ventilation should’ve been obvious to everyone there. It was impossible for them not to hear as he desperately cried out a total of eleven times: “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I cant’ breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe…” Yet not a single one of the 7-8 officers who helped restrain him apparently thought his life worthy of protecting. Instead of seeing him as the adored father of six children with two newly-arrived grandchildren that he was, they saw only his brown skin.
And so it should come as no surprise that not one member of this gang of police officers gave the slightest indication of having a care in the world as Eric Garner went unconscious. In fact some of them were far more concerned with blocking Ramsey Orta’s camera from catching the incident on tape, pressing themselves in front of the bystander and repeatedly yelling at him to “back up!” It also appears that the paramedics weren’t even called to the scene until after Garner was already dead. As the paramedics arrived, they do nothing to try and breathe life back into this now lifeless body. In fact, they act as if this was no emergency at all, as if to say, “Oh well. Another one bites the dust.” That is when one concerned bystander called out, “Why is no one doing CPR?!” The officers replied by insisting that it would be unnecessary because Garner is still breathing. (These people are professional liars.) Of course they had plenty of time to go through their victim’s pockets, however, confiscating his cellphone and “untaxed” cigarettes. Elsewhere Daniel Peckerwood Pantaleo can be seen chatting it up with his officer buddies, showing not a bit of remorse or concern for having just killed a man. At one point he is even be seen waving sarcastically at Orta’s camera, knowing full well his superiors have no intention of holding him accountable for his actions.
Meanwhile the police report filed shortly after the incident made absolutely no mention of Pantaleo’s holding Garner in a chokehold! It included testimony from such liars as Sgt. Dhanan Saminath, who described what they were doing to Garner as “maintaining control of him” and claimed that he “did not appear to be in great distress.” Sgt. Kizzy Adonis followed that up by saying that Garner, whom she outrageously and disrespectfully referred to as “the perpetrator”, seemed to be in an okay condition which “did not appear to get worse.”
The NYPD has responded to the outrage surrounding the video by announcing its intention to conduct an “internal affairs investigation”, which is really just code for doing as little as possible. Rarely does a department bring charges against one of its own, and when it does it’s always at a minimal in order to make it appear to the public like a fair and impartial investigation was conducted. Pantaleo, I suspect, will be the only officer charged with something like “accidental homicide”, and you can be certain that the system will try to have him tried wherever he’s most likely to get an all-white jury. Currently Pantaleo has been assigned to desk duty while the “investigation” is underway. He is still going to get the same amount of pay, but apparently reassigning him temporarily to work at a desk job was a step to far for New York’s most prominent police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which called even this minimal action “completely unwarranted.” Though a law was passed in 1993 expressly forbidding police officers from placing someone in a choke-hold, there have been at least 1,000 chokehold complaints against NYPD officers since 2009, though less than ten resulted in any kind of action being taken. Just three days prior to Garner’s murder, cops violently assaulted Ronalds Johns in a Harlem Subway station, pepper-spraying him in the face while holding him in a chokehold.
Perhaps no one is more devastated by the loss of Eric Garner than the woman who brought him into the world 43 years ago, his 65 year-old mother Gwen Carr. As painful as it was for her to watch what those cops did to her son, she is at least thankful that it was captured on video. “I don’t want him to have died in vain,” explained Carr. “As people see, it’s just a godsend that we have the video. Just look at the tape.” She wants to see the officers locked up “just as they would had given my son if the shoe was on the other foot… It’s just a lack of humanity. That’s what it was. He was nothing to them, but he was our people. He was just a big guy on the street.”
The New York City Police Department seeks to make life so oppressive for Black males that they are not even safe from police violence in their own homes. Barely two months ago NYPD officers in the Bronx appear to have falsified a police report in order to justify brutally beating and arresting 19 year-old Jateik Reed, who they claimed was carrying “bags of crack and marijuana”, though there are no bags present in the video from the scene. Their report also claimed he was “resisting an arrest as well as striking an officer”. They of course made no mention of the fact that they were the brutal thugs attempting to beat the living daylights out of Reed with their batons, and furthermore threatened bystanders who were filming the attack.
This is the true face of the NYPD: an organized mob of the most violent people on earth.
* As his sister Ellisha Flagg said later, “Many people that own stores sell illegal cigarettes. They lose their license, not their lives.”
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