*With the case of Eric Garner, the black man who died while being held in a choke-hold by a handful of police in broad daylight on a NYC street while horrified onlookers watched (yes I said it…ALL, in one breath) has brought no indictment for Daniel Pantaleo, the 29-year-old officer accused of the crime, it has brought even more animosity towards the police.
Some of this anger continues to be expressed violently, and some, intellectually.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a deep thinker with strong opinions. And as opinions go – his has had its share of adverse reactions. Watkins recently sent what he calls “some quick thoughts” to a TV producer for an upcoming program; where he reveals his assessment of why people are crying over Garner’s death.
In the eyes of some, the life of a black man is worth almost nothing. He has no credibility. He is undeserving of compassion. Instead, he’s simply a big, frightening animal that needs to be put down. This is why the Eric Garner situation touches me, because only a black man has to die because he was being hassled over possibly selling illegal cigarettes.
Here is 2 theories presented by Watkins…
1) We should be disturbed about the idea that a police officer can kill a black man in broad daylight, with dozens of witnesses, on camera and not even be put on trial. This speaks to the sheer audacity with which police are violating the human rights of people of color. Because our consciousness is so predicated on the idea that law and order stand above decency and morality, we are convinced that if the officer is following orders, the actions must be OK. This is disturbing, because a lot of German soldiers were also “following orders” when they threw Jews into concentration camps during World War II.
2) Part of the reason that millions of people have responded so passionately to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner is because many of us have had an unpleasant first-hand experience with police. Some may have been threatened by a cop, harassed, unfairly arrested or brutalized. Those who have not dealt with this first-hand have loved ones who’ve had this experience. There are tens of thousands of black people in prison right now for things they did not do or as a result of racial profiling. Any group of people that is harassed in such a blatant and ridiculous way will have more police interactions and more arrests. It’s the targeting of black people that often increases the perception of criminality.
After Pantaleo learned he would not be indicted by the Staten Island grand jury for Garner’s death, he released this statement:
“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo said in the statement. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”
Read more at BOSS Network.