Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Eric Garner's death proves the need for reform

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

Last week, I wrote about the deplorable behavior on display on both sides of the Michael Brown debate. However, I did not offer my personal views on the case because I feel there are too many unanswered variables to formulate a solid opinion as to whether or not Officer Darren Wilson should face charges. In short, I don’t know. The more I learn about it, the more I feel Wilson got away with murder. But when it comes to the police brutality case of Eric Garner there is simply nothing to discuss.
Eric Garner was a 43-year-old father of six who was killed in the middle of a Staten Island street in broad daylight for the shocking crime of selling untaxed single cigarettes. The real crime in this story is perhaps the cigarettes themselves as a pack can cost upwards of $14 in New York City. Because of the outlandish tax, the sale of untaxed cigarettes is an ever-growing problem within the five boroughs. Apparently, in the case of Eric Garner, certain members of the NYPD felt the sale of loose cigarettes warrants a deadly chokehold issued on a middle-aged asthmatic man.
The difference between the Eric Garner case and the Michael Brown case is that the entire conflict between Garner and the police was caught on tape. In fact, several videos of the interaction were captured from multiple angles leaving absolutely no question about what happened to Garner.
When the police confronted Garner, he became belligerent, alleging previous harassment at the hand of the NYPD. Garner makes no audible threats but when the officers move to arrest him, he resists. He doesn’t attack the officers, however he does make a noticeable effort to resist being handcuffed. In response to this, several officers descend upon him in a manner reminiscent of wolves hunting in a pack. During the struggle, one officer grabs Garner in what would become the fatal chokehold. Even after Garner is pinned to the ground and cuffed, the officer maintains his chokehold through Garner’s pleas of “I can’t breathe” and his colleague’s warnings of “Okay, he’s down.” Following the altercation, Garner can be seen lying lifeless on the sidewalk. The police then stand guard over Garner’s body until the ambulance arrives. No effort is made on the part of police to revive Garner or even properly diagnose his condition. He’s just left there, to die on the street, while those sworn to protect and serve stand over him.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.