I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. Those were the words of Eric Garner before his life was taken from him. I can’t breathe. I watched that video like so many others and I can’t believe the injustice of this situation. A wrongful death, no indictment, and no accountability for the chokehold which took this man’s life.
I have asthma. I know what it’s like to not be able to breathe. It’s scary, and all one wants is to catch their breathe. But when you’re suffocating and the air is not there, it’s all you can do, to cry for help. Mr Garner said it 11 times, I can’t breathe. His words haunt us because his cry was not heard. It didn’t stop them. The officer held the chokehold and this black man died. This is the second story in the last few months.
If you watch the latest in what’s happening across this country, it’s tragic and ultimately sad. There were two stories that hit the media over that last 2 months of white police officers accused of improper behavior resulting in the death of 2 black men. Although these were separate stories occurring in different cities, the situations dictate racial profiling, racism, and injustices. These two men died as a result of what happened.
In Ferguson, MO, a teenage black male, Michael Brown, died from multiple gunshots wounds. They say he was unarmed and had his hands up. The white police officer said he felt he was in danger and shot the suspect. I didn’t follow the story and the news media had everything so convoluted that I don’t know what really happened in that incident. But the city broke out into riots. Then the officer was not held accountable for his behavior. The news media announced a jury’s decision that the officer would not be indicted. Riots broke out again. Anger erupted across America. Blacks and whites were calling for justice. Many others were judging the behavior of the ones looting and burning down their city. The news captured that too. People took to social media to voice their opinions.
Then the second story broke out. Police in New York tried to arrest a 43-year-old black man. It was all caught on video. This black man was put in a chokehold by one of the officers. Pulling him down to the ground, the video clearly showed this man struggling and crying out, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” The officer kept the chokehold. The man died. The police officer was not charged for any crime.
Two different black men, two separate white officers, two different cities, both black men died, both white officers were not indicted, and both situations cause for justice.
I can’t breathe is our cry too.
The first story I didn’t understand. I hadn’t read the piece or knew exactly what had happened. I saw the aftermath and it wasn’t pretty. The people were rioting and setting fire to police cars. The media was covering that. The second story I did see. I watched in horror knowing this man died. I have asthma. I know what it’s like to not be able to breathe, but to witness this because of a chokehold. Well that’s undignified, insensitive and tragic. After watching this video, all I can think of is how come the officer wasn’t held responsible?
This weekend, the pastor at church brought up the sadness of these incidents. He told an all-white congregation, that the love of Christ is the only answer to the racism that is plaguing our country. That we should listen to the plight of those who are crying out about the injustice. He spoke about the privileges of others and those who are less fortunate. As followers of Christ, we should be doing more to love our neighbor, to express the love of Christ to all.
After officials announced that the police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner would not be indicted, protests grew nationwide. What will it take for this country to turn around? To change the hate, to bring acceptance and stop the violence that plagues our cities. When will it end? When will we bring the love of Christ back into out hearts? Can we forgive? Can we love?
I can’t breathe, is our cry. It’s the cry of the people: black, white, or Hispanic, it’s the cry of the human spirit. It’s the cry that haunts us until we see change.