In New York -- even on Staten Island -- I thought there was a chance to avoid this outcome, but I guess not:
A grand jury in New York on Wednesday decided not to indict white police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July choke hold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, according to two law enforcement officials.On the one hand, Pantaleo seems to want to subdue rather than kill. On the other, he never relents, even as he hears Garner say "I can't breathe" -- how often? Seven times? Eleven times? At what point does it occur to you to stop responding as a cop and start responding as a human being?
During the fatal encounter July 17 Garner raised both hands in the air and told the officers not to touch him. Seconds later, a video shows an officer behind Garner grab him in a choke hold and pull him to the sidewalk, rolling him onto his stomach.
"I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" Garner said repeatedly, his cries muffled into the pavement.
The cause of Garner's death was "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police," the medical examiner's office has said. The death was ruled a homicide.
So how will Joe Scarborough lecture us about this? He's told us that the protests in the wake of Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson are abhorrent to him because the message of the protesters is "based on a lie":
The latest chapter in this made-for-cable-news cultural drama unfolded in a football stadium this weekend when five St. Louis Rams players held up their arms in an attempt to show solidarity with the growing "Hands up, don't shoot" movement that grew out of the Michael Brown case. The same gesture was made by members of the U.S. House this week. That is a shame. Actually, it is offensive because the gesture suggests that a police officer pointed a gun and shot a black man whose arms were in the air while he said "hands up, don't shoot."Where's the lie here? We know what happened. We saw it:
The fact is that there is no credible evidence that remotely supports the absurd claim that ever happened. But then again, protesters also falsely claimed that Officer Darren Wilson stood over Michael Brown while shooting bullets into his dying body. And, of course, Brown's friend who accompanied him during the convenience store robbery also claimed that Michael Brown was shot in the back.
That, too, was a lie. But I guess that is irrelevant in a social media and cable news culture that promotes partisanship and controversy to improve their bottom line. And apparently it matters even less to protesters whose goal it is to drive the false narrative that white cops are patrolling neighborhoods hoping to find a young, defenseless black man to shoot in the back. "Hands up, don't shoot" is a lie that divides and makes President Obama's stated goal of bringing together police officers and communities more difficult. But there is greater damage that is being done. By basing this movement on a lie, those claiming to promote the cause of social justice are actually offending those they should be converting, and they are obscuring the ugly fact that the criminal justice system still discriminates against black Americans 60 years after Rosa Parks changed the world by refusing to give in to injustice.
When the truth is on your side, why resort to a cheap lie?
Garner does nothing violent. He doesn't magically evolve into a wild-eyed "demon" whose punch makes Pantaleo feel "like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan." There's no point at which Garner seems as if he's "bulking up" to resist lethal force in a superhuman way.
There's no separate video of a convenience store robbery. There's no struggle for a gun. There's no more resistance to authority than what we see, and that isn't much.
And yet it's a safe bet that Scarborough is going to back the cops, because his Ferguson pontification has nothing to do with his belief that Ferguson protesters have the narrative wrong and everything to do with a knee-jerk tendency to lick police officers' boots. He'll denounce George Zimmerman because Zimmerman didn't wear the uniform. But once you've got that uniform on, Scarborough will give you a free pass.
I'll be delighted if I'm wrong about that. But I'm not expecting to be.