Eric and Jesus Can't Breathe: Another Non-Indictment (Part I)

JoannaSimkinSeeringly poignant, this point.

We can advocate for bodycams on police, sign every petition, the national ones, the local ones. We can write to the governor, to our state reps and senators. We can call our local police stations.  We can lend our bodies and our hearts to the public eye and join and/or support those in the streets — the ones asking peacefully, the ones interrupting traffic and parades, the ones dying-in at Grand Central Station, the ones with hands-up on the football field.  The ones keeping silent vigil and even the ones raging.

As the mother of Mike Brown said when the grand jury in Ferguson came back without an indictment:

We can aspire not just to make noise, but to make a difference.

And still, even when it’s caught on “tape,” even when there are rules against using choke holds, it still leads to a grand jury declaring that the loss of a Black man’s life isn’t work the court’s time, isn’t worth the inconvenience to the white police officer, isn’t a matter of legal justice.

The fix of bodycams sounds really good. Maybe it is really good. Seems to have worked in this community. Bodycams on police to protect the citizenry. Bodycams on police to protect legitimate police actions.

And then…

Eric Garner’s murder – yes, whereas I used this term to describe Mike Brown’s death and there is room for argument, the coroner actually deemed this man’s death a homicide – was on camera.

It’s gut-wrenching to watch.  Or to listen.

“I can’t breathe.”

Over and over.  And over.

“I can’t breathe.”

Rev. Jeff Hood thinks that is Jesus talking to us, through Eric Garner, talking to you and me, to this place we call home:

I keep thinking about Eric Garner saying, ‘I can’t breathe.- It made me think — that’s what Jesus is saying in this culture. Jesus is fundamentally connected to the marginalized and right now Jesus is saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I think the church should be saying the same thing — that we can’t breathe in this culture and we have to change this culture in order for us to have breath and exist in this society.”

Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice’s murder – yes, I will use it again; with the kind of recklessness we are seeing over and over and over again, the distinction between manslaughter and murder has become meaningless – was also caught on videotape. Two seconds (TWO SECONDS — yes, I am raising my voice) after the police car stops, the boy is shot.

This is reprehensive policing in a vast pattern that denies #blacklivesmatter.  And it turns out that the officer had been found to be unfit in 2012 and fired from his job as a police officer in another municipality.  Did I say reckless?  Not just the officer, but the institution that hired him.  The system.

For tonight, I have lost confidence in concrete solutions being proposed.

I will start again tomorrow.  As we all must.

May there be not only peace in parts of the land, but in all of the land.  May there not only be peace, but justice.  May there be not only peace in your home, but in all homes, and compassion, too.  May there be not only peace in your heart, but in all our hearts, and love beyond love.  May we all stay awake.

To be continued…

Part II is found here.

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2 Responses to Eric and Jesus Can't Breathe: Another Non-Indictment (Part I)

  1. I hear that the cameras do some good, in large part due to restraint. Even so, prosecutors are famously supposed to be able to indict a ham sandwich… so it’s more than suspicious that they keep failing to indict police officers, especially in these recent cases.

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