We Can’t Breathe

We Can’t Breathe

For decades, the black community in the US and other parts of the globe has been subjected to racial profiling and police brutality. The killing of innocent African Americans by the police and illegal arrests has been the norm in the US for the past few years. In 2019 alone, police in the United States killed 1,099 people.

This is according to data by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. Black people accounted for 24% of those killed despite being 13% of the overall population. African Americans are disproportionately affected by police killings in the US. The most affected states are California, Florida, and Texas. Most of these killings have sparked public outrage, with many taking to the streets to protest.

In 2014, Eric Garner was walking around a particular neighborhood in Staten Island, New York, before two police officers approached him. The police had previously interacted with him, and he was accused of selling cigarettes with no tax stamps.

His encounter with the two New York cops escalated quickly before other officers joined in restraining him. During the confrontation, Garner was put in a chokehold by one of the officers as the others restrained him. Videos that circulated online after the event showed a man who was in distress.

He kept shouting, ‘I can’t breathe’ several times while he was being restrained. Garner became unconscious and was pronounced dead upon reaching the hospital. The chokehold is what led to Garner’s death.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Eric Garner in a chokehold, was not indicted on criminal charges. After years of investigation, the federal department of justice declined to file charges against him in July 2019.

He was dismissed from the police department in August 2019.  What surprises many is the never-ending cycle of police brutality meted on African Americans in the US. Several other cases of police brutality on African Americans have been reported. Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Jamar Clerk, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, and Breonna Taylor are some African Americans who have died in the hands of rogue police officers in the US over the past few years.

The most recent case of George Floyd has sparked public outrage and led to a series of protests in different states. It comes at a time when the world is facing the coronavirus pandemic, a highly contagious disease that can spread fast in large gatherings. Most Americans have defied the ‘stay at home’ order to vent their anger on the murder of George Floyd.

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