The tragic death of Mr. Eric Garner that came as a result of the choke hold – an illegal police maneuver banned since 1994 – continues to provoke nationwide outrage, particularly in black communities. Consider for a moment, the reasons igniting this outrage – the excessive use of force leading to yet another death of an unarmed black man, and the political support for police in the face of a blatant lack of accountability to these seemingly routine acts of police misconduct and murder. But there’s deeper factor to consider here – the historical roots that branches out to the limbs of indifference afforded to black life.
Mr. Garner’s death continues to spark outrage because of the many people who can relate and connect through personal experience – the thousands who have been stopped and harassed by the police - and lived to talk about it. The thousands of stories about controlling that feeling that just grips you when you see the bright flash of the red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. Or the harassment that comes with being repeatedly stopped and frisked. Or the feeling of being fully aware that even the slightest encounter with the police can turn bad…and sometimes fatal. This connection was played out when the video was being played over and over again to the collective nods of approval. People are outraged because they connected with Mr. Garner when he crossed his arms in front of him and told the police officers that it stops today…we all knew what he meant by ‘it’. Mr. Garner said to the officers: "...Every time you see me you want to wrestle with me. I'm tired of it...it stops today...I'm minding my own business officer. Please leave me alone...I told you for the last time, please leave me alone."
This is why Mr. Garner’s death continues to resonate with the public consciousness - because of their connection to a shared experience. The outrage grew in the aftermath of Mr. Garner’s death when more videos displaying similar criminal acts by NYPD were released as well as chokehold statistics – 1022 chokehold incidents between 2009-1013.