Eric Garner’s mother reflects on justice one year after killer cops walk: ‘I’m gonna keep his name alive’

Video image shows NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo choking Eric Garner in New York City (Screenshot/YouTube)
Video image shows NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo choking Eric Garner in New York City (Screenshot/YouTube)
Originally posted on December 3, 2015, on RawStory

It was exactly one year ago that a grand jury decided not to indict a NYPD officer who was caught on video putting Eric Garner into a chokehold, pulling him backwards and down onto the sidewalk, and pushing his face into the ground despite the fact that Garner stated, “I can’t breath,” eleven times.  Garner was then left on the ground for 7 minutes. Neither Officer Daniel Pantaleo not the other officers nor the EMT performed CPR on the 43-year-old father of 6, who was pronounced dead an hour later. Why had Garner been approached by police in the first place? Because he had committed the crime of selling loose cigarettes.

The senseless and unpunished murder of her son, transformed Gwen Carr,  a long-time MTA train operator, forever. She soon retired from the MTA to become a full-time activist.   I spoke with Mrs. Carr this week on my WBAI radio show, about her life, her son, her family, and her  justice work. Here is some of what she told me.

About the failure to indict:

I definitely did [expect an indictment]. My son’s death was caught on video. Full coverage. And there was no indictment. You mean the grand jury didn’t see any probable cause? Where is the justice in that? Nobody asked them to try the case. Just to look for probably cause. That’s what a grand jury does.

About her channeling her grief into something positive.

What really got me was when I start thinking about well my son is gone now. If I don’t do something about it, I can’t expect anyone else to do anything. So, I’m gonna get out there and I’m gonna keep his name alive. If it’s only me, I’m gonna keep his name alive. And when I found out about how many others that were out there, I said I’m gonna make a promise to be the voice of my son and the voice of the voiceless and the nameless. So, I’m gonna try to keep that promise by speaking out, walking, rallying, doing whatever it takes until my voice is heard, until we get justice.

Justice for me is to hold everyone accountable who was involved in my son’s death that day. Because it was a senseless killing. It did not have to happen. And when they did this to my son they went deep on me. They stole my joy, they killed my spirit and they ripped my heart out. So, I just want to see everyone stand accountable for what they did that day because if there’s a crime there should be accountability whether you wear blue jeans, a blue suit or a blue uniform.

About how to end police violence and murder:

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Houston cops shoot unarmed black patient in hospital — and then charge him with assault

image via Facebook
image via Facebook

Originally posted September 9, 2015 on RawStory

Alan Pean is a 26-year-old biology student with no criminal record or history of violence. But on August 27th, he was shot in the chest by an off-duty Houston police officer working as a security guard at the St. Joseph Medical Center. The police are claiming that Alan became combative and that they followed standard operating procedure. It’s Alan, they say, who is as fault, and they have charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant. He was arraigned today.

According to the Houston Police Department’s statement,

Officers Ortega and Law were working extra jobs as security at St. Joseph Medical Center at the above address when they were summoned to the eighth floor to help nurses subdue a combative patient.  Once the officers arrived, the patient continued to refuse to comply with the nurses and officers’ demands.  The patient suddenly physically assaulted Officer Ortega, striking him in the head, causing a laceration.  At that time, Officer Law deployed his conducted energy device, which had no apparent effect on the suspect who continued to assault the officers.  Officer Ortega, fearing for his and his partner’s safety, then discharged his duty weapon, striking the suspect one time.

But the family and medical professionals are disturbed by the handling of Alan’s case and what looks like a failure on many levels. Alan had driven himself to the hospital the night of August 26, during an acute mental health crisis. When he got there, he crashed his car and was treated for those injuries. But the mental health issues, which were what brought Alan to the hospital in the first place, were ignored, according to the Pean family. Alan’s father, himself a physician, begged the hospital to get his son a psychiatric evaluation given that Alan had suffered a similar episode in 2009. But the hospital decided he was ready to be discharged, clearing him a mere minutes before the shooting. How did he go from being cleared to leave to so combative that only a bullet could protect two officers?

Medical neglect followed by the use of excessive force led to what could have very easily been a fatal shooting. Health care professionals have started a petition condemning the presence of guns in hospitals and the criminalization of patients and mental health patients in particular. It reads

Personally, we stand in outrage for every time he is referred to as “combative” without sub-clause or context, we stand in outrage for every time he is called a “suspect” instead of a patient, we stand in outrage for every time he, one empty-handed, help-seeking man, is painted as a threat to two officers, able bodied and armed, in a hospital.

Professionally, we have been trained in truth seeking and healing. As doctors and medical students, as nurses and care partners, we are trained in how to safely restrain and tranquilize patients, no matter how aggressive, or irritable, or anxious, or threatening they may be. Never is it appropriate or warranted for a patient to be tazed, never is it appropriate for a patient to be struck, never, never, never is it appropriate for a patient seeking care, to have their life threatened in our arms.

Personally and professionally, we are shaken by the reality of this epidemic of police brutality, in which no one– no son of a doctor, no college student, no tender-hearted soul of color remains immune. We stand with shaken hearts and rooted conviction, to speak our collective outrage for Alan Christopher Pean, our gentle friend, a 26 year old who was inexcusably shot in the chest by a police officer, while seeking care as a patient.”

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Cop who killed young Black man with dreads warned of Rasta drug culture

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The same cop who shot and killed a 21-year-old Black man who wore dreadlocks had a lot to say about the nefarious connection between drugs and Bob Marley music.

Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is one of the two police officers who were involved in the shooting and killing of Darrien Hunt, which took place last week. The police claimed they shot Hunt as he lunged at them with a samurai sword. The Prosecutor initially backed up the claim but has since stated that Hunt was actually dozens of yards away when he was shot multiple times and killed. An independent autopsy and witnesses corroborate not only that Hunt was far away from police, but that he was running away and shot from behind.

It has been revealed by The Guardian that in June of this year Schauerhamer, 32, had written an article in the local newspaper offering parents tips on how to figure out if their kids are into drugs:

If parents are able to familiarize themselves with the specific trends of drug culture, they will be more likely to recognize if their child is descending into the culture and subcultures that drug users associate with. It will be easier for parents to distinguish whether their child is using or associating with people who use drugs.

According to Schauerhamer’s helpful guide, which was published in a local newspaper in June, one of the gate-way subcultures into drugs is “Rasta” culture.

 if your child is listening to Bob Marley’s “Kaya” is wearing a Bob Marley shirt with Bob Marley on it smoking a joint, has a Bob Marley poster in his room, and is wearing a Rasta hat (red, yellow and green), it is highly likely your child is highly high. If they have Rasta colored anything, it is a good bet your child uses or hangs out with drug users.

Nor does the officer shy away from overstating the allegedly indestructible link between style and criminality. He actually writes that,

the spade associated with this [SRH] clothing brand is so mainstreamed now that simply wearing it makes you a walking billboard proclaiming to the police, ‘I use drugs! Arrest me now!’

Continue reading “Cop who killed young Black man with dreads warned of Rasta drug culture”