Inside the Eric Garner protests
For the second night in a row, the streets of New York City have been filled with protestors demonstrating against the death of Eric Garner. This is sadly just the latest instalment of “America Is Fed Up With Police Brutality and Racial Prejudice,” a series that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. As the police helicopters continue to whir above the heads of Manhattanites (hello drone life), we thought that now is a better time to give a recap of what the hell is going on.
The Initial Incident:
Eric Garner died in Tompkinsville, Staten Island, on July 17th of this year. Accused of selling cigarettes by the NYPD, they proceeded to put him in a chokehold, a move ruled illegal by the NYPD itself, and strangled him to death as he repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe.” He was pronounced dead an hour later…the coroner’s report? Homicide. Many of you have already seen it, but if not, here is the video of the incident. It is disturbing and we warn you to view with caution.
Grand Jury Matters:
It seems like just yesterday that protests against the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown were rocking the nation. Oh wait, that’s because it was just last week. Now here we are again; the noble citizens of this grand jury decided not to indict the officer responsible, Daniel Pantaleo, for any charges regarding Garner’s death. Understandably, the city, as with the rest of the nation, is in uproar.
The Last 48 Hours:
In New York we have already seen upwards of 200 arrests, all of them thankfully peaceful, for matters like refusing to clear the streets. An attempt to disrupt the lighting of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center was foiled, but protestors rapidly joined up and gathered in several points across Manhattan: Foley Square, Harlem, Herald Square, and Times Square, to occupy and march. One group walked across the Brooklyn Bridge holding aloft fake coffins. A ‘die-in’ was held in the middle of Grand Central Station. Nearly a hundred people were arrested Times Square for disrupting public space.
Our national Attorney General, Eric Holder, has officially launched a federal investigation into Garner’s death, promising action. In an address to the nation, President Obama refused to address Garner directly, instead promising only to improve relations between America’s citizens and it’s police force. So in terms of direct action, not much is going to happen for a while to come.
With the image of hordes of protestors bearing enormous banners of “I CAN’T BREATHE” and “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE” becoming almost commonplace in New York, we have to ask, what the hell is going on? How can the death of a human being that is ruled by a coroner as HOMICIDE go unpunished? Is there anything that a police officer can do that would be considered illegal? Stay tuned until the next wave of protests coming to a city near you.
How you can help:
On December 13th, there will be a holiday benefit concert at Edgewater Hall in Staten Island for Eric Garner’s children and grandchildren. Hosted by NAAPS (North Americans Against a Police State), admission is a $15 donation to go to Garner’s family. Purchase tickets here.
You can also donate directly to his family at this GoFundMe page, created by the Charlotte Activists Collective.
The organization, Color of Change, is petitioning Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama to hold the NYPD accountable and file criminal charges against Daniel Pantaleo. Sign the petition here.
Images via Instagram.