Friday, December 05, 2014

1418 Choke Hold Justice

The cops’ lament: “If I did that, I’d be pounding a beat in Staten Island.”  

The Superior Officer version: “Keep it up, Bozo, and you’ll be pounding a beat in Staten Island.”

Never was much of an assignment. Still isn’t.

Does the white cop’s killing of a 350-400 pound asthmatic black man by using the departmentally banned choke hold rise to the level of the Ferguson shooting death? Or is it even worse?  Doesn’t matter.  Each is bad enough.

After three months of testimony, a grand jury elected Wednesday not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo who has something of a history of not being indicted in lesser but similar cases.

Eric Garner, 43,  was accused of selling single untaxed cigarettes --  they call them loosies on the street -- at a Staten Island corner.  Others say he was breaking up a fight.  Garner is forever unavailable for comment.

Here’s the video .

So, how long before the character assassinations begin?  Was Garner really a “gentle giant” and neighborhood peacemaker who was selling loosies to people who can’t afford to pay retail at New York’s outrageous $12 to $14 a pack? A Pack?!  The city tax is higher than the cost of cigarettes.

But the penalty for unauthorized untaxed sales at street level usually is a fine, not death.

There are demonstrations from coast to coast and there will be more.  So far it doesn’t look like anyone’s looting or burning.  Probably by the time it all ends, there will be a few new unpaid for TV sets and iPods and maybe some canned goods in a few homes.

But New York, Los Angeles and Seattle are not some no-horse town in the Low IQ belt.

Here, we find demonstrations from the Brooklyn Bridge and Staten Island to midtown at the Rock Center Christmas tree lighting and Grand Central to the West Side Highway and up to Harlem.

As well we should.

The mayor, with a multi-racial family, gets up and speaks with great passion and love, but without condemning the grand jury action.

Huckster Al Sharpton seems legit for ten minutes.

Attorney General Holder announces a federal civil rights investigation.

Wrongful death lawyers gather, salivating.

And the defense?  If Garner had been shot dead, the officer’s would be “I was just cleaning the gun and it went off.” or “I didn’t know it was loaded.”

But there was no gun.  So the defense becomes “I meant him no harm.”  Say what?  One guy, piled on by a bunch of cops one of whom has him in a choke hold?  For selling cigarettes on a street corner?

If he even was doing that.

There’s strong evidence the cops in the incident and Garner knew each other.  If so, the police knew they could have talked down the situation instead of piling on.

You -- whoever you are, wherever you are -- could have talked things down.

The choke hold around the neck of justice.


--Note to squeegee men: if Garner’s offense was the kind of crime Bratton’s NYPD is focused on as it was in the Giuliani days, take a few weeks off.  Same goes for you, turnstile jumpers.  And jaywalkers.

--RIP Herman Badillo who has died of congestive heart failure at age 85.  He was the first Puerto Rican- born member of congress among much else.  But he never managed to realize his dream: becoming Mayor.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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