I call it murder because the NYPD patrolman’s guide unlike the fictional police manual in Pryor’s routine which on page 8 allows for the ‘breaking of a nigger’, strictly prohibits officers from placing any suspect in a chokehold. Make no mistake about it this chokehold was not an accident. It was deliberate and done with malice and forethought. Between 2009 and 2013, the Civilian Complaint Review Board that investigates complaints against New York police officers, received 1022 complaints of police placing suspects in choke-holds. However, the agency fully investigated just 462 determining that only halve of those complaints were valid. Which begs the question, if less than fifty percent of complaints were investigated what message does this lack of urgency and concern send to police officers. Alas, I digress, on to the anger and the outrage.
In one of his more poignant moments during a routine Pryor reflects on the LAPD’s use of the chokehold and the weirdness of it all saying, "Police in L.A., man, they got a chokehold they use on @@##. Do they do it here, do they choke you to death? (Voices from the audience, many voices from the audience: `Yeah!') That's some weird @#*. Cause I didn't know it was a death penalty to have a parking ticket". Scary, and ominously prophetic not so much because it was abnormal, but because it was and continues to be normal to, ‘break a nigger’ in the eyes of police officers. Moreover, as Pryor eluded too, the minor infractions over which a black man could lose his life, a parking ticket and now as in the case of Eric Garner, allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Furthermore, the callous and cavalier attitude taken by some over the death of a black man at the hands of police versus the death of a policeman at the hands of a civilian.
Now don’t for one second think that I am condoning the death of police officers. I abhor violence and cherish one life as much as the next. However, what I do not appreciate are snake oil salesmen, like Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, consistently defending officers firing fifty or more rounds at unarmed suspects, or as Lynch likes to say, ‘animals’. In a statement Lynch called the decision by the police department to put Daniel Pantaleo, the officer shown in the video placing Garner in a chokehold on desk duty “completely unwarranted” and “absolutely wrong.” Reminds me of the used car salesperson who tells the customer the oil leaking beneath the car is black gold. New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio and Police Commissioner Bratton are throwing around cautionary words such as, purported and alleged, in addition to saying there is a full and ongoing investigation.
Moreover, the Civilian Complaint Board now has a new director, civil rights attorney Richard Emery appointed ironically the very day of Garner’s murder. During the announcement of his hiring Emery said, “Effective policing is by definition constitutional and respectful policing,” As it related to complaints of mistreatment from civilians against police officers Emery stressed the importance of “responding fairly and justly and quickly.”
Fairly, justly and quickly, does that sound reasonable to anyone given the history of police and blacks in this country. Yeah, I know, the answers will vary according to people’s reality. You know, white folks saying yes because for them fairly, justly and quickly is their reality and black folks will say no because fairly, justly and quickly is not part of their reality unless it’s done on behalf of white folks. I mean how much can the words ‘purported’ and ‘alleged’ really mean when the offense is captured on video, what is there to investigate. To hear liberals tell it we’re long past Rodney King as evidenced by Obama’s election and to hear conservatives tell it, at least the US Supreme Court, racism no longer exists as evidenced by Obama’s election. However, the only evidence that matters is what the video shows and it appears that might not even be enough.
Rodney King, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Marlene Pinnock, Oscar Grant and now Eric Garner, and these are but a few on long exhaustive list of blacks victimized by overzealous and pampered police officers. “Enough is enough and too much will make a dog sick.”
Richard Pryor, as funny as his comedy was, it was also tragic and true. “Can you break a nigger?” “Let’s check the manual.” “Yup, page 8.”
Prayers for comfort for the Garner Family
Written by Jay Arrington
Maryland Daily Examiner