Choking on injustice

It seems as though I’m back at the keyboard too soon. It seems as though history can repeat itself within the course of a few weeks.

Speaking of history, it’s time for a lesson.

I’m told to “trust the system.” Apparently, it’s supposed to stand for truth, justice and the American way (or some crap like that). My own friends claim that, despite its flaws and slipups, the system is meant to ensure “equality” and “fairness” (or some crap like that).

Turn back the clock…

Twenty years ago. A man named Rodney King has been beaten nearly to death by men who are meant to be “keepers of the peace.” His assailants are not charged. The streets around our own campus burn.

Turn back the clock…

Fifty years ago. The country looks on as peaceful black protesters have fire hoses turned on them and dogs set upon them. Batons rain down, churches are bombed, little girls are killed. This is the plight of Birmingham. The greatest and most peaceful of all protesters has a dream, and he’s killed for it –– all of this as a result of the system.

Turn back the clock. The Little Rock Nine are spat upon.

Turn back the clock. Black men hang from trees amid burning crosses.

Turn back the clock. Black lives are worth exactly three-fifths of white lives.

Turn back the clock. Black women are raped and bred to watch their daughters suffer the same.

Turn back the clock. America the beautiful is built on the backs of slaves.

From where should I draw my trust? What point in the history of these United States can anyone claim, “Back then, the system was trustworthy.”

Eric Garner was my father. He was my brother. He was my son and my cousin and my husband –– simply because he looked like me. Now he’s in his grave with no justice to honor his memory.

In the wake of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, I have been divided from my peers. When racial tensions rise, suddenly I am black to them. They say I shouldn’t be so sensitive, that my people should stop acting like animals when the whole history of America is one great violent beast. They say these incidents have nothing to do with race. They say this nation has moved beyond its racism and prejudice and hatred –– and that I should too.

They say, like blind men, that I should trust the system.

To which I reply: “I can’t breathe.”


Remaya Campbell
Freshman, film and television production


3 replies
  1. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    Sources in the mainstream media expressed outrage after a grand jury declined to indict a New York City policeman in the death of Eric Garner, but there are 11
    significant facts that many of them have chosen to overlook:

    1. There is no doubt that Garner was resisting an arrest for illegally selling
    untaxed cigarettes. Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik put
    it succinctly: “You cannot resist arrest. If Eric Garner did not resist arrest,
    the outcome of this case would have been very different,” he told Newsmax. “He
    wouldn’t be dead today.

    “Regardless of what the arest was for, the officers don’t have the ability to say, ‘Well,
    this is a minor arrest, so we’re just going to ignore you.’”

    2. The video of the July 17 incident clearly shows Garner, an African-American,
    swatting away the arms of a white officer seeking to take him into custody,
    telling him: “Don’t touch me!”

    3. Garner, 43, had history of more than 30 arrests dating back to 1980, on charges
    including assault and grand larceny.

    4. At the time of his death, Garner was out on bail after being charged with
    illegally selling cigarettes, driving without a license, marijuana possession
    and false impersonation.

    5. The chokehold that Patrolman Daniel Pantaleo put on Garner was reported to have
    contributed to his death. But Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and weighed 350 pounds,
    suffered from a number of health problems, including heart disease, severe
    asthma, diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea. Pantaleo’s attorney and police
    union officials argued that Garner’s poor health was the main cause of his

    6. Garner did not die at the scene of the confrontation. He suffered cardiac
    arrest in the ambulance taking him to the hospital and was pronounced dead
    about an hour later.

    7. Much has been made of the fact that the use of chokeholds by police is prohibited in
    New York City. But officers reportedly still use them. Between 2009 and
    mid-2014, the Civilian Complaint Review Board received 1,128 chokehold

    Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said:
    “It was clear that the officer’s intention was to do nothing more than take Mr.
    Garner into custody as instructed, and that he used the takedown technique that
    he learned in the academy when Mr. Garner refused.”

    8. The grand jury began hearing the case on Sept. 29 and did not reach a decision
    until Wednesday, so there is much testimony that was presented that has not
    been made public.

    9. The 23-member grand jury included nine non-white jurors.

    10. In order to find Officer Pantaleo criminally negligent, the grand jury would have
    had to determine that he knew there was a “substantial risk” that Garner would
    have died due to the takedown.

    11. Less than a month after Garner’s death, Ramsey Orta, who shot the much-viewed
    videotape of the encounter, was indicted on weapons charges. Police alleged
    that Orta had slipped a .25-caliber handgun into a teenage accomplice’s
    waistband outside a New York hotel.

    • M2000
      M2000 says:

      Chockhold had nothing to do about Garner’s race, had everything to do with his medical conditions and his past deeds to why he was confronted.

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