Eric Garner (43) was killed by policemen in Staten Island on Thursday. The 400-lb asthmatic father of six, suffered from a seizure after police put him in a chokehold. A bystander captured the entire ordeal on a smartphone.
“I told you the last time officer, please just leave me alone!”
Garner attracted police attention after breaking up a fight. The annoyed and frustrated Garner verbally disagreed with officers who alleged to have seen him selling cigarettes. The impassioned Garner expressed discontent with the constant harassment. When it was clear that excessive and deadly force was used, police ordered bystanders away.
Eric Garner, may he rest in peace, is yet another victim of police brutality. Entrusted with extreme amounts of power and discretion, NYPD is notorious for breaking the limits of civility. Often fueled by racist and sexist overtones, Black and brown men and women are frequently targeted by police.
Thanks to smartphones and social media, police brutality is being documented, shared, and thrown in the faces of political bosses who claim that brutality is necessary.
As the death toll mounts, there’s a relatively simple way to end such a violent phenomenon. There is a solution to preventing the death of the innocent, and preserving the common good.
Police must be required to wear cameras.
The idea has been floating around for awhile, but now it’s time to put it into action. In a controlled study, police in Rialto, CA were required to wear cameras, and the results were mind-boggling. Use of force dropped by 60%, and civilian complaints by 88%.
Since 9/11, government has been surveilling civilians and encroaching on our civil liberties all in the name of “safety” and “protection.” Well it’s time to turn the tables, especially considering that we, as civilians, need to be protected from those who are “protecting” us.
In the social contract, we relented certain privileges and rights in return for governmental stability and social services. All in all, it’s working out well; Americans enjoy health care, education, and infrastructure. But there comes a time where we need to repair the kinks in the machine. Police brutality threatens neighborhoods, fuels mistrust, and indirectly increases criminality. Police surveillance is one way to combat this.
There are benefits for police as well. They are protected from trumped-up complaints that often lead to lengthy civil suits and wasted taxpayer dollars. Less man and women hours will be spent pushing papers.
Police surveillance isn’t the end-all-be-all for ending police brutality. But it is an obvious step in curbing it.
Arielle Newton, Editor-In-Chief. Get at me @BlackMusings