Last night something broke inside of me

Hearing that the Grand Jury decided that there was no probable cause to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner was devastating.

Grand Jury discussions are held in secret. No note taking, no recordings. No review of what was said, seen, missed, nothing. No information about the vote, how many times they voted, whether it was unanimous or not, nothing. So how do I know you did the right thing?

I watched the clip again from July 2014. I saw Eric Garner facing the officer talking to him, his hands clear and open, arguing but not being combative. He remained in place, not taking steps towards the officer. A big man, yes. But he was outnumbered by police who were armed. Garner’s back was turned to Pantaleo who placed him in a choke hold, a forbidden maneuver. I saw a man in a chokehold, with other officers quick to help bring him down. I saw Garner with his arm stretched out and heard him say twice “I can’t breathe.”

In any other circumstances, the words I cannot breathe would have set everyone in a frenzy to save another person’s life. Preserving life is a natural reaction, a reflex that we all have. It should kick into motion regardless of possible criminal records or perceived suspicions. But not in this case. For seven minutes after he said the words I cannot breathe the only care he got were handcuffs and someone patting his shoulder saying that they were going to try to get you up now, sir. Can you hear us? And Pantaleo waving to the camera.

I have seen a lot of injustice and inhumane behavior but that clip, watching everyone stand by while Garner was dead, nobody turning him, performing CPR, checking for a pulse, or taking off the handcuffs before loading him on a stretcher with the casual remarks “well, that’s gonna take six of us” was one of the cruelest disregards for human life that I have had the misfortune to see.

Watching Eric Garner die was disturbing. I explained his case this morning to my daughter over breakfast. She needs to know about these cases. She needs to know that people’s claims that “we are all equal” are empty slogans from an old propaganda campaign that was a failure from the start. We are not equal at all!

I know that what happened to Garner isn’t the first time. I know that it has gone on for a long time, yes. But these observations should not be followed with a shrug of resignation.

If I leave one legacy for my daughter it is going to be the memory that her parents did treat people as equals and that they didn’t discriminate. And if people ask her later what her mom did? I hope that she will say that mom stood up for those who had no voice anymore.

14 thoughts on “Last night something broke inside of me

  1. Unfortunately I knew that the grand jury wasn’t going to indict the officer. Its a lot of foul things going on in America these days. Wrong used to be wrong. I’m not even sure about that anymore.


  2. What bothers me the most about this, is the reaction of the politians, demanding “more training”
    NYC Police are the most trained police force in the world, It is not training that is the issue, it is the attitude.


  3. Like Ken, when I heard the crime of selling loose cigarettes was the cause, I was amazed…and not in a good way. I am shocked by all the not guilty verdicts coming out and ask myself am I not seeing all there is to see? What am I missing?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. And what was Eric Garner doing that brought this on him? He was selling loose cigarettes! When I read that I was speechless. I wouldn’t want the cops in my town to waste their time on petty stuff like that. And yet this man was murdered for selling loose cigarettes!
    And yes, he was murdered.


  5. This is a bit of a touchy topic and one that brings up other questions as well. First of all, Garner did not die at the scene of the confrontation. He suffered cardiac arrest in the ambulance taking him to the hospital and was pronounced dead about an hour later. He suffered from a myriad of heath issues. Please do not misunderstand… what happened to Mr Garner should NOT happen to anyone. But he wasn’t a complete innocent either. We still have seen a transcript from the grand jury…we do not know what evidence there were presented. ANY loss of human life is tragic. I think most of us were completely surprised when the results of the grand jury were presented. But I think it’s best NOT to judge until we have all the facts. There is another victim here…the cop whose life will be forever changed, as well as those of his family.


    1. Jacqui, I have to disagree with you on this one. Once an unarmed subdued person is unresponsive in police custody, the police have a duty to make sure that person survives—-no matter what they might have done. The fact that Eric Garner had multiple health problems is irrelevant. If anything, his girth should have put them on notice that when he was on the ground, on his stomach, saying he could not breath, they needed to take some immediate action to ascertain his condition. That is not what happened here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan as I was reading your post and so many emotions and thoughts again ran through my mind I think the title summed it up best. I echo that something broke inside of me as I heard the verdict. It is heartbreaking. My hope is that no other mother has to have that kind of conversation with their daughter as you did. Continue to stand and use your voice.


Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s