Marching for Eric
Obviously, this is a touchy subject. Just about everyone who reads this will be offended at some point, please bear with me and I’ll try to make it up to you later. I really can’t stand behind the marches in New York… just like I couldn’t stand behind the rioting in Ferguson. The basic point is that there is enough blame and the guilt for the current situation to go around.
Ultimately, the marches, the protests and the demonstrations are about anger. Anger and projection. The question that then has to be answered is deceptively simple — who do we blame for the current situation?
1) Eric Garner.
Putting away all the outside “stuff”, we have to start with the fact that Eric Garner was breaking the law. It is illegal in the state of New York to sell loose cigarettes and once you’ve been informed that you are under arrest, anything beyond strict compliance constitutes “resisting arrest”. If Eric Garner wasn’t breaking the law, he was exponentially less likely to interact with the officers in question on the day he died. If Eric Garner hadn’t been selling loose cigarettes, he would most likely be alive.
2) Daniel Pantaleo.
This much is obvious — Pantaleo and his fellow officers killed Eric Garner through an incompetent and overzealous exercising of their authority. The fact that they didn’t even have to face a real court over it is insulting to the very fabric of a civil society. They killed a suspect over selling loose cigarettes… and as far as we know they are back on the street. At least Darren Wilson had the honor to resign and go do something else with his life.
3) Commissioner Bratton.
WTF is the commissioner doing letting someone who has been sued three times (including an alleged strip search) STAY ON THE STREET? Even more so, why have we not heard of the commissioner demanding Pantaleo’s resignation? Oh yeah, because entry number 4 needs someone carrying water for him with the Police Union or things will get really ugly really fast. Mark my words, as soon as Bratton is no longer needed, he will be shown the door.
4) Mayor Bill de Blasio (The politician formerly known as Warren Wilhelm, Jr.)
On top of the collective administrative blunders, there is a more direct source of blame for the Mayor. Immediately following the release of the Grand Jury decision on the Eric Garner case, the Mayor had a fantastic opportunity to quell the anger that was brewing. Demand the officer’s badge, fire the Commissioner, demand accountability from the prosecutor, empathize, ask for calm, and seek to move the conversation from pain and anger to “what we do now”. This could have become a starting point for cleaning up all of NYPD and doing so in a responsible manor that rebuilds the public trust. What did he do? He left everybody in their jobs, delivered a speech telling the hurt and angry that they were perfectly justified in being hurt and angry, and throwing the entire collective of NYPD under the bus as evil, racist bastards who can’t be trusted. And then he cried to the press wondering why NYPD was unhappy when he showed up at the funerals for a pair of officers. The situation was horribly mismanaged and now we have a gigantic rift opening up between the mayor and the police department while there is civil unrest… and that can’t end well.
5) Governor Andrew Cuomo
The governor is the next step up from the Mayor. The fact that all of this happens under the Mayor and is (1) left unaddressed and (2) horribly mishandled, usually implies that the Governor needs to be stepping in to apply force to various local officials to get their own houses in order (see: Ferguson). The absence of the Governor on this one means that whatever happens because of it is partially his fault.
6) The People of New York.
This is the biggest one. Who elected the people that allowed New York City to institute the Broken Windows police theory? Who failed, as represented by the Grand Jury, to recommend charges against an officer who killed a suspect? Who allowed their city and state governments to decide what defines “resisting arrest”? Who put in place the State Legislature that passed a law stating that the sale of loose cigarettes without tax stamps was illegal and worthy of being arrested? Answer: the people of New York. Yes, Eric Garner was breaking the law and yes, according to state law, Eric Garner was resisting arrest from an officer who overzealously and incompetently restrained him, thereby killing him; but none of that happens if the people of New York don’t elect or fail to monitor politicians that passed the laws that Garner broke. The reason selling loose cigarettes in New York is illegal: it causes the city to lose tax revenue and the tax rate is supposed to discourage people from smoking. If those laws hadn’t been passed, Eric Garner would most likely be alive right now. All the marches and demonstrations — it’s a response from those who are unhappy laying in the bed that they have created for themselves.
At the end of the day, every middle finger waved at NYPD because “they killed Eric!” is a middle finger waved to all of New York City — because their votes are what has created this entire bloody mess.