Thursday, December 4, 2014

Blogmas Day 2 | Opinion: The Injustice System

(Andrew Burton/ Getty Images)
It's the stories that have been circling the news and social media for the past few months. It's the difference between black and white. It's the cry of an innocent man who's being strangled by a police officer while he pleads for air. It's the way the shade of skin separates entire communities. It's the outcome of racism and injustice.

I know that Blogmas is about beauty, fashion and Christmas DIYs, but I couldn't ignore posting about this situation. This Is Noelle is my place on the internet where I'm able to talk about my favorite products, songs, clothing pieces, and other things that interest me. I usually write about the things that make me happy, but I often skip over the stories that haunt me and stick to my soul. The case of Eric Garner in New York is one of those cases and I feel the need to share my thoughts on it.

Most people have heard about the shooting of Michael Brown- an unarmed black boy who was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO. The six shots that pierced Brown and the ultimate lack of indictment on officer Darren Wilson (the policeman who shot Brown) drew a barrier between the blacks of Ferguson and the whites. No one really knows what happened on that August 9th day between the two men despite witness recollection. There is no video footage or proper evidence of who was wrong in the disagreement, there's just a(n) innocent/guilty dead black boy and a(n) innocent/guilty white police officer.

The case of Eric Garner is one that grabbed my heart as soon as I heard about it. Garner was a black man who was sitting on a sidewalk with his friend in New York on July 17 when normal clothed police officers approached him and accused him of selling "loose cigarettes". Garner grew frustrated with the officers who apparently had been harassing him about the products for the past few weeks and asked them to please leave him alone. All of a sudden, Daniel Pantaleo of NYPD surprised Garner from behind and placed him in a vicious chokehold. Some things to be noted are that Garner put his hands in the air as a sign of surrender when the officers were ready to arrest him and he also was put in an illegal chokehold for no reason whatsoever. He didn't show flight threats or possible threats of violence towards the officers and yet Pantaleo strangled Garner to death. Garner's last words were "I can't breathe"- a phrase he uttered 11 times while his face was shoved into the sidewalk pavement and his neck was being squeezed to a pulp. The whole occurrence was recorded on the phone of Garner's friend Ramsey Orta.

This situation was even more extremely disturbing and heartbreaking to me compared to that of Brown in Ferguson. The difference between the two cases is that Brown's altercation has no complete truth on either side. There are no witnesses whose accounts are 100% believable and true. The only people who know what happened on that horrible day are Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. Garner's case on the other hand was filmed and shared with the world. I don't have a degree in law, I don't experience racism on a daily basis, and I wasn't there when Garner was murdered, but I still feel the complete sadness and anger at what happened and at officer Pantaleo. The video of the altercation is truly heart wrenching and has caused me to break down in tears multiple times. The lack of indictment on Pantaleo's side is even worst. The fact that the whole situation was recorded on video (as evidenciary support), Pantaleo used a tactic that has been banned in NY for 30 years, and Garner was unarmed and not threatening makes me baffled as to how Pantaleo wasn't indicted.

Was Garner selling loose cigarettes? Maybe. Is his selling illegal? Yes. Should he be punished for it? Sure. Are there other ways of discussing the matter such as giving Garner a court date or a ticket for the illegal act? Definitely. Did he deserve to die for selling $1 cigarettes to homeless people? Absolutely not.

Pantaleo was a white police officer who's had prior accusations of racist acts. He's a rookie cop who's bad judgment cost an father of six his life. He performed an illegal chokehold on Garner who was simply sitting on the side of the sidewalk with his friend. Pantaleo deserves a prison sentence and Garner's family and the black community need to know that they are not alone in this fight against racism and injustice. Garner's life mattered. No one should ever have to plead for the right of breath.

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