We are cocksure that the Staten Island grand jury saw the same YouTube video everyone else in the United States and around the world did: the one showing a group of New York City white police officers swarming and killing an unarmed Black man, the irreproachable Eric Garner.
Yet the majority white jury have declined to bring charges against the plainclothes white officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who in the video girdles up Mr. Garner’s neck in a chokehold – a tactic long banned in the United States – hurling Mr Garner to the ground and smashing his head into the pavement.
Though Mr. Garner’s death was officially ruled a homicide, it is not possible to unearth the secrecy of the grand jury, and thus to comprehend why the white jurors, unlike the rest of the humane world, did not believe that criminal charges were appropriate against their fellow white cop.
What is indefatigable is that am unwarranted and vicious policing occurred, and another innocent Black man is dead. Another conclusion is also apparent. White police officer Pantaleo may have been stripped of his gun and badge; but he needs to be stripped of his job and he must go to jail for murder. He used forbidden tactics to brutalize a citizen who was not acting belligerently, posed no risk of flight, brandished no weapon and was heavily outnumbered by white cops.
Any police department that tolerates such conduct, and whose white officers are unable or unwilling to serve Black communities without killing them, needs a savior in Christ. And though the chance of a local criminal case is now foreclosed, the Justice Department is right to swiftly investigate what certainly is the violation of Mr. Garner’s civil rights and human rights!
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton may have responded to Wednesday’s development, as they did in July, when anguish and anger flared. But Mr. de Blasio’s urging that New Yorkers outraged by the grand jury’s failure express themselves in peaceful ways is not satisfying. How does a Black community so oppressed by white police violence sit calm? Perhaps in the hope that white officers change?
Protests in New York City on Wednesday unavoidably echoed those in Ferguson, Mo., where a white police officer was scuttled away from justice for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. Protesters in both places have every right to vehemently deplore both human rights violations, as well as the appalling frequency of these fatal encounters between Black men and white police officers.
New Yorkers, at least, have a mayor but the Police Department have fully squandered their credibility with the public. Mr. de Blasio’s and Mr. Bratton’s vows to retrain the police force top to bottom in defusing conflict, is not going to reduce unwarranted arrests and restore community trust.
Rather, what the New York Police Department needs is its fair apportionment of policing duties to cops who are Black and live in the Black communities they police. Nothing can be further from this truth.
Otherwise, it will be insane to caution those who seek justice to remain hopeful. They are right to remain skeptical and wary of white America. Indeed, if not for a bystander with a cellphone, the white police officers’ version of events would have been the prevailing one as in every single case involving the death of Black men: that Mr. Garner “resisted arrest” and had to be subdued.
Mr. Garner, who was 43, and left a wife and six children, cannot speak for himself. But the video, at least, speaks for him. It’s a heartbreaking, damning exhibit, showing Mr. Garner’s final moments alive, and his final words: “I can’t breathe.”
If the race of the cop who choked and killed Mr Garner can be forgotten for a moment, the race of the cop who shot and killed Michael Brown, is still fresh in our minds. The race of all the bad people who become prosecutors to hurt Blacks pervade our imagination of America. The race of the myriad number of lawyers who enter the criminal justice system to hurt Black people continue to haunt our dreams. The race of the number of bad people who become Senators, Governors, Commissioners, Judges and Congressmen and fiddle with the institutions that only wound Black people shine so gruesome, it is difficult to ignore. The cop who murdered Mr Garner is white, of European descent.
In the end, these fatal abuses – the sordid oppression of African Americans for absolutely no law enforcement reason – mimics the very foundation of this American crank, pervasive still, no matter how much European America claims it has broken away from that tradition. Having committed genocides against native tribes, for absolutely no evolutionary reason, and enslaved Africans in America for more than four centuries, except for a debased hatred, mars the ‘fine’ story The ‘Holy’ American Empire wish to carry along with it gallivanting the globe.
Justice and decency has always been out of reach for America’s Africans and the source of that human rights violation is fully locked in the bosom of European America. Because America never had a humanitarian problem; American never had a human rights issue, until the landing of Christopher Columbus. And for a time we thought, in the last half century, that that might change. Alas, who were we kidding?
The United States of America has an immemorial white problem. And the future of That ‘Holy’ American Empire is as glim as it is bleak. For the souls of the innocent folk will have their chance in this life or the next.
Tswa, Omanye Aba!