Young People Speak Out About the Garner Verdict 3

by Alyssa Andrews

I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m confused. Eric Garner didn’t deserve to die. He wasn’t hurting anyone. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t assault an officer. He didn’t have a weapon. He was not a threat.

He was selling loose cigarettes, and an officer killed him. I don’t understand why a man who was doing something that wasn’t dangerous or life-threatening had to die. I don’t understand why a man who was only asking about the arrest and not resisting it had to die.

If you’re a United States citizen, you’re entitled to human rights, yes? But recent events have proven to me that this doesn’t matter anymore. Eric Garner had rights. It doesn’t matter what his ethnicity was. It doesn’t matter what he did for a living. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood he was from. He had rights. His life mattered! So why was he treated as if he was less than nothing? Why was his life not valued?

I’ve watched police officers in Jamaica, my neighborhood in Queens, abuse their power because they wear a badge. There is a heavy police presence on our streets in Jamaica. You see two cops on every corner. The increase in police activity should help the city, but does it really?

Was putting a man in a chokehold the way to crack down on crime on Staten Island?

Someone recorded the police confrontation with Garner on a cellphone and you saw and heard Eric Garner say, “I can’t breathe.”

He couldn’t breathe. But apparently, it was still a good idea to continue to use a chokehold as a restraint mechanism. And he died. There was clear-cut evidence that excessive force was used and was the cause of his death. So, why wasn’t officer Pantaleo indicted? Why shouldn’t he pay for what he did?

Although Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.  launched a federal investigation to look into the case, I still worry about the future of this country. More videos have surfaced that show officers of the law disrespecting people they’re hired to protect. It appalls me.

I question my freedom as an African-American woman and the freedom of others like me. We fear for our safety. And we wonder about the role of the police in our communities.  Do we still call them if they are now a threat to society?