I haven't blogged about criminal issues, yet, but I strongly feel that it's time that I did as the Eric Garner murder by the police and, I might add, the EMS workers who did nothing to save him, is so disturbing to me that I have to write about it.
I have seen the video that was taken of Eric Garner's "arrest", if you want to call it that, and was both shocked and appalled by what I saw. Mr. Garner had his hands up in the air, in surrender mode, when what looked like anywhere from 4 - 6 policemen surrounded him and one of them put him in a chokehold. If memory serves, some of the police were beating him, as well. Mr. Garner WAS NOT RESISTING ARREST, NOR WAS HE BRANDISHING A WEAPON OR REACHING FOR A POSSIBLE WEAPON. Why did this father of 6 die, by the hands of the police who are supposed to protect us, for the very minor alleged crime of selling untaxed cigarettes on the street?
This is not a rhetorical question. I admit that the issue might be more complex than what I believe to be the case, however, I can almost guarantee that it's not much more complex.
Mr. Garner died because there are some very angry, bigoted, and violent policemen in the NYPD and in other police forces throughout the country.
We've seen the abuse of power by the police occur many times in the past several years and, yet, very little is done to stop it. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to deal with criminals, all day long, and to see what some police see on a daily or weekly basis. It must make them pretty angry to see what human beings are capable of doing to each other. I can understand their anger. What I don't understand is how their anger turns to violence. It's one thing to take extreme action against someone who is pointing a gun at you or reaching for what you think could be a gun. It's quite another thing to cut off someone's ability to breathe when he is not threatening you and when he is unarmed. There is no other way to view what happened to Mr. Garner than to view it as a homicide.
My contention is that, since police are armed and, therefore, can kill anyone they decide to kill, without provocation, it should be standard operating procedure for them to be examined by a psychiatrist or psychologist on, at the very least, an annual basis. It appears to me that some policeman are as violent as some of the violent criminals in our society. Maybe that's what attracts them to law enforcement in the first place. I am, by no means, accusing all policemen of being violent. I'm just saying that there are too many unprovoked and unwarranted deaths of civilians who are either not engaged in criminal behavior, at all, or are engaged in very minor criminal activities.
The police who act out their violent fantasies need to be eliminated from the NYPD and from other police units throughout the country. In our national anthem, we sing of the USA as being "the land of the free and the home of the brave". Are we really free if we can be killed by a violent policeman? Is a policeman who kills an unarmed man who is surrendering to him brave?
Let's address the issue of the EMS workers who saw Eric Garner on the ground and did nothing to help him. What do they perceive their job to be? Do they actually think that they have a choice of whom to assist? Since Eric Garner did nothing to deserve his fate, why didn't they help him? Even if he was armed, their job is to save everyone who is injured or in danger of dying.
Let's, now, talk about consequences. Admittedly, I wasn't on the scene when this event took place, however, according to the accounts of the event that I've read, the EMS workers who were on the scene did nothing to help Mr. Garner. Those EMS workers should be fired. More importantly, the
policeman who was the direct cause of Mr. Garner's death should be put on trial for murder and I think that the other policemen who were on the scene should be charged with, perhaps, depraved indifference as it appeared that none of them told the choking policeman to stop what he was doing.
There is another issue that is too complex to discuss in this post: bigotry.
It seems to me that most, if not all, of the people who are, wrongfully, killed by the police are African-Americans. I'm not certain whether this is due to the bigotry of some policemen, to the number of African-American criminals or whether it's due to a number of factors, but it certainly doesn't bode well for an innocent African-American man who is walking down the street.
We need to make metro NY and our country truly the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let's institute a policy of testing every policeman (and woman) on all of our police forces for their emotional stability and propensity to violence before and while they are carrying weapons.
Let's ensure that the police do what they are trained to do, i.e., "to serve and protect" and that they don't add "to kill when they're not in danger" to their job description. Let's not blame the good policemen and women who serve and protect us for the violence of the bad apples. Let's just rid the NYPD and all other police forces of the bad apples.