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For a peaceful city we need to do more than attend a vigil for fallen policemen

Furguson, Missouri burned, and 2 dozen businesses were destroyed. Other cities have also seen violence. Here in NY we’ve seen demonstrations that blocked traffic with chants of death to cops and the assassination of 2 policemen sitting in their cars by someone who identified with the militant NY City demonstrators. We’re evidencing a crack in the stability of our cities from racial tension. The reason for the tension is of course complex but behind all the slogans against cops it can be explained as blacks or minorities’ perception of getting treated differently by the criminal justice system in general, our educational system and discrimination when it comes to employment. We know that poverty does in fact have a linkage to worse schools (in our current government controlled monopoly), lesser quality legal representation in the criminal justice system and if discrimination in employment were true it certainly would explain more fatherless homes and hence more societal dysfunction.

This is the backdrop but the match that sparked the recent fire is blacks’ perception of being treated in a callous way by the police in the form of more unnecessary stops and in the extreme - the stated tendency of police to shoot and kill black male youths more readily. From all the examples of such however, whether it be Michael Brown who attacked an officer and wanted to take his gun, Travon Martin who attacked a neighborhood watchman and was killed or even that of a youngster who points a gun that is a toy at a policeman but which looks real enough who then gets shot by the policeman - we are hard pressed to see a legitimate example of an unjustifiable killing by a police except when it comes to the case of Eric Garner in Staten Island which was caught on cell phone video.

This is a case of a black man who had a history of being arrested for illegally selling loose cigarettes on the street. This past summer however, when he wasn’t even doing that but reportedly was actually heroically breaking up a fight on the street, the police were called and decided to arrest him again because of his longstanding illegal activity with the cigarettes. Garner however, felt that he was being picked on and resisted the arrest, whereupon 4 to 5 cops took him down with an apparent chokehold and piling on his back. But in the midst of all this he was exclaiming that he couldn’t breathe and subsequently died shortly thereafter from what the coroner deemed a homicide that resulted from a constriction of the airway in the throat and a compression of his chest. On top of that, when the EMS came to the scene and a medically unresponsive Eric Garner is being asked to come-to, so to speak, Garner is still on his side on the pavement in cuffs with probably a phalanx of about 30 cops on the side. The man never fought the police - he simply did not submit his hands for cuffing. I’ve stated in a previous article about the case that all they had to do was for 2 cops to take each arm and the 5th policeman or the sergeant to cuff him and he would have lived.

Despite that however, a Staten Island Grand Jury found that none of the police were at fault. It was reported that when the man who took the video of the take-down of Garner testified for the Grand Jury, the jurors were decidedly uninterested in what he had to say and according to him, they were even playing with their cell phones during his testimony. The verdict is explained in that a chokehold is actually legal in NY State but only against the policies of the NY City Police Dept, hence the non criminality of the police action. That however explains nothing about the no-indictment of the cops because there was no reason to escalate their violence on the man to the point that their actions actually did kill him despite him having medical susceptibilities of asthma and diabetes. The coroner ruled that it was the actions of the police that killed him - namely, choking him and piling on his back thereby also preventing his lungs to expand with air. In my opinion the Grand Jury verdict was nothing short of jury nullification not unlike the all black jury nullification of OJ Simpson 20 years ago.

What happened to Eric Garner over some silly cigarette sales is tragic and disgraceful . Even some who support our police have acknowledged this but not enough. For instance our former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, says that “maybe” the police were wrong in the Garner case. Others say that “we don’t have all the facts” even though a clear video exists and the coroner gave a clear ruling of homicide. People say that we don’t have the evidence that the Grand Jury had and Grand Jury proceedings are secret so we don’t know what they saw. If so, the obvious question is - how is such a legal system fair when it is opaque to the public?

Could it be true that there are too many other things that police are doing that are not right that we don’t know about? Is it possible that too many police are acting out by harassing blacks, as Eric Holder says was his experience? Certainly that is possible. The police belong to a Union and I believe in Unions but not to the point of protecting bad behavior as the Teachers’ Union notoriously does. The fact is, that when police wear body cameras, public complaints are reduced by over 50%. That could be because people realize they can’t make up stories of what the police did but it can also be that the police are more on notice to act appropriately. It is interesting to note that a sizable portion of the black community claims to have such bad experiences with the police and it is also quite known that the public school system is failing many minority children with its substandard service. Are Unions to blame for these results? It is not popular to say that but it certainly is possible.

What is not right to say is what the racial arsonists like our current mayor, Bill De Blasio and Al Sharpton are saying that there is a systemic problem of racism in our society and in our police departments. The ‘civil rights’ movement as is being led today by Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Luis Farrakon and let me add Barak Obama with his sidekick Eric Holder is most shameful and devoid of legitimacy - as bogus as the Towana Brawley case was. We should defang these charlatans by legitimizing the grievances of minority communities and seeking practical solutions for them. By ignoring the grievances however, (whether they are clearly stated or not) we let the heat intensify inside a simmering cauldron and it is very dangerous when it explodes. There is also the morality of wanting fairness for our neighbors in that they should have free choice in education and safe streets from criminals and the occasional rogue cop. We want the world to empathize with Jewish concerns when we are under fire by anti Semitic elements, why shouldn’t we empathize with minorities’ concerns? If Eric Garner was a Hasidic man who was taken down and killed over selling cigarettes wouldn’t the Jewish community be very upset? Right and wrong should apply for everyone.

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