Do you have an inherent need for justice? Do you believe equality is an important trait for people in society to have? On the other hand, maybe you know people who are indifferent to financial and psychological struggles. [Read more…]
I published a post (Eric Garner and Michael Brown: And Justice For None, http://wp.me/p5jxvv-5t, 12-3) in which I shared my view that just like Ferguson’s Michael Brown, New York’s Eric Garner was a victim of a racist attack by a Caucasian police officer, Daniel Pantaleo.
To recap: Eric Garner, an unarmed African American husband and father of six, was suspected of selling tax-free cigarettes. Caucasian police encircled him, and Office Daniel Pantaleo put Garner in a chokehold. Asthmatic Garner repeatedly screamed, “I can’t breathe.” Office Pantaleo did not release him, and Garner died.
Because this story occurred right on the heels of unarmed African American Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a Caucasian police officer, I felt they were “parallel” situations, both incidents of racism. Because my readers disagreed that Brown was a victim of racism (see Ferguson Decision: Right or Wrong? http://wp.me/p5jxvv-2y, 11-25), I asked them whether or not they thought Garner was in my last blog post.
Today, I asked my students. As my readers found out in Ferguson Decision… I had one lone student who believed Michael Brown had not died at the hands of a racist officer. I believed they would all agree this time that the officer in Eric Garner’s case, Daniel Pantaleo, was indeed racist. I was curious to see if my prediction was right.
I could not have been more wrong. My seventh graders are Magnet students who come from all walks of life. Their academic level of achievement varies. Because they are in a Magnet school, a majority of them are minority. They could not have been more split. It was almost a tie–half voted that they felt Officer Pantaleo was racist and half voted otherwise.
Let’s Ask the Students!
- The system perpetuates the status quo. Whites have always hated blacks. Based on that history, this was a racist attack.
- People in power stay in power. Officer Pantaleo knew Darren Wilson, Michael Brown’s killer, had been exonerated and therefore felt comfortable taking the actions he took. He believed that, like with Wilson, there would be no repercussions.
- The NYPD does not allow the use of chokeholds. Officer Pantaleo used this method of subduing Mr. Garner because he was a racist.
- The officer’s race matters. New Yorkers wouldn’t be protesting if a black cop had killed a black man.
- Whites have not always hated blacks. Blacks have always hated whites. Based on that, Officer Pantaleo was not racist.
- Officer Pantaleo apologized to the family which he didn’t have to do. Obviously, the officer is not a racist.
- The officer had no way of knowing that Eric Garner was an asthmatic when he put him in a chokehold.
- The officer’s race does not matter. The police don’t look at potential criminals as people of color. They see a crime, they react.
- If Officer Pantaleo had released Mr. Garner when he cried that he could not breathe, the officer would be taking the word of a potential criminal, and Eric Garner could have run away.
- If Officer Pantaleo had used a taser instead of a chokehold, and Eric Garner had been armed, he would have reached for his gun when he saw the officer reach for his taser.
There you have it, the seventh-grade jury is in. Their opinion is split, so once again I ask my readers, do you agree with the half of my class that feels Officer Pantaleo was a racist that should have been punished? Or, do you agree with my students who feel that this incident had nothing to do with racism? I look forward to your views.
And Justice For None
This post could also be subtitled, Eric Garner–A parallel post. Last month I penned another blog post called, “Ferguson: Right or Wrong” (http://wp.me/p5jxvv-2y, 11/25/14). I felt an injustice had occurred when it came to Michael Brown’s death. An unarmed teen shot dead at the hands of a white officer smacked of injustice. Approximately 100 people read my post, and my stance was criticized by the overwhelming majority of them.
My readers implied that I was guilty of some kind of reverse racism. I predict that response will run parallel to the lambasting that I believe awaits my position regarding Daniel Pantaleo, the Caucasian officer that put Eric Garner in a chokehold this past summer which killed him. Once again the victim is an unarmed black man with his whole life ahead of him. Mr. Garner was not only relatively young but a husband and father of six. Officer Pantaleo, like Officer Wilson, Michael Brown’s killer, was exonerated.
As a whole my “Ferguson” readers seemed to feel that Michael Brown’s crimes warranted Darren Wilson’s actions. “He stole,” some explained when referring to Brown. “He grabbed Officer Wilson’s gun,” others insisted when defending Wilson. I backed off, somewhat glad that my readers could find a community of like-minded people inside my blog.
So tonight I ask my critics of Ferguson: Right or Wrong do you again feel the victim’s crime fits his punishment? According to CNN’s Legal Analyst Jeffrey Tobin, Mr. Garner’s crime, that cost him his life, was as follows: he was selling cigarettes tax free. [Read more…]