The story of New Yorker Eric Garner has not ceased to make headway in the media since the events took place on July 17th, 2014. Garner, 43, was in the process of being arrested by several New York Police Department officers for selling untaxed cigarettes on the sidewalk. Video taken by a bystander shows an unarmed Garner being placed in a chokehold – a tactic that is prohibited by the NYPD – before he seems to lose consciousness whilst repeatedly shouting “I can’t breathe!” The video shows the Staten Island resident lying on the ground motionless after the incident. He was later declared dead at a nearby hospital.
People have been reacting to these events in a variety of ways. Some seem to have been taking a more pacifistic approach with silent protests and a new trend called “die-ins”. This is when a crowd of people march to a specific spot and lie down in a large group for a differing amount of time. Even though there are vast amounts of people taking a non-violent path, there is still a considerable cluster of those with different ideas. Recent events, not just limited to Garner’s death, have sparked riots and rampages throughout the whole of the nation. It seems as though the media has been categorizing protesters from both ends of the spectrum as indistinguishable despite the vast anomalies.
Countless reports of buildings being destroyed, cars being burned, and even people being killed have become products of these so-called “peaceful protestors”. Just a week after riots evoked in Ferguson, Missouri, a man named Zemir Begic was beat to death by a group of black teenagers equipped with hammers simply because he was a white man in the wrong part of St. Louis.
I understand that it is difficult to gain the attention of the government, but since when is this the best way to do it? It may be more effective than other practices, but in simplest terms, these people are not using good judgment. How does this reflect on our society? On our nation as a whole? Just a few months ago, an unarmed 20-year-old Dillon Taylor was shot and killed by a police officer. But what’s different this time is that the victim was white and the officer was black, therefore there have been no visits or comments from Al Sharpton or President Obama. No one has beat anyone with a hammer or burned down a building because of this.
You don’t see these extreme retaliations when it comes to government spending or other pressing issues in this country, so why do they have to happen when the issue of race rears its head in current events? It seems to me that not everyone fully understands what it is that they are fighting for. Citizens have the freedom of speech, not the freedom of killing people because they are upset.