Seeing the New York Times’ photo of Eric Garner’s grave site made me very sad as its symbolism began sinking in.
What if what is an unmarked grave symbolizes the lack of progress in ending police killings? What if the fact that, in death, Garner has yet to be given the same acknowledgement we expect to receive: our name on a headstone, a label on an urn; some identifying information that reminds the viewer that we spent time on this earth. What if Black Lives Matter, like other movements before it, has reached its potential for social change? What if the protests of last year were the last mass-protests we’ll see, no matter how many more fall to the police state? What if brutality is our new normal? What if it’s too late for civil rights and civil liberties?
Beyond the Chokehold: The Path to Eric Garner’s Death – NYTimes
Eric Garner was lumbering along a sidewalk on Staten Island on a July day when an unmarked police car pulled up.
The plainclothes officers inside knew Mr. Garner well, mostly for selling untaxed cigarettes not far from the nearby Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
Mr. Garner — who at 6 feet 2 inches tall and 395 pounds was hard to miss — recognized them, too. Everyone did, at least among those who hawked cigarettes and cheap goods on that stretch of Bay Street along Tompkinsville Park. For years, they played a cat-and-mouse game with the New York City officers who came to arrest them.
As the officers approached, Mr. Garner, 43, shouted at them to back off, according to two witnesses. He flailed his arms. He refused to be detained or frisked. He had been arrested twice already that year near the same spot, in March and May, charged both times with circumventing state tax law.
But on that sweltering day in July, the officers left him with a warning.
“It was the first time I ever saw them let him go,” said John McCrae, who watched the encounter near the park. Mr. Garner took that experience to heart, Mr. McCrae said.