So the Punk Is New York City

On the surface, the situations in Staten Island and Ferguson – two instances of a grand jury’s refusing to indict a white cop for the death of a black man – are quite similar. But other than that one factor the situations are dramatically different. Actually, there is one other significant similarity – Al Sharpton is busy hustling for his bitterness business in both situations, and for him that particular business is always brisk. But with those similarities aside, I want to point to the stark difference for a moment.
This is not a trifle. Our ability to see the difference is the measurement of whether we are prepared to think biblically about race in America — and all the early returns indicate that we are nowhere close to ready.
As a preface to what I’m going to say, I want say that it is perfectly reasonable to call upon the prosecutor in this case to do what was done in Ferguson, which is to release the evidence was presented to the grand jury, and which they apparently found so compelling. I say this because this could conceivably be a case where Proverbs 18:17 pulls a rabbit out of a hat, but it is awfully hard to see how that could happen. This whole Eric Garner mess appears to have all the characteristics of a travesty.
That said, I want to state my point near the very beginning so that if someone wants to get mad, they can start in on it now. Anyone who cannot see past the “refusal to indict” and “white cop/black victim” is an essential part of the problem. Anyone who links Ferguson and Staten Island as parallel situations is living out the very antithesis of King’s dream — “the content of their character” is trumped, always and everywhere, by the presence of melanin.

And anybody who says that “white people don’t get it” is an essential part of the problem. The fact is that white people who know what justice is do in fact “get it.” White people who don’t know what justice is don’t get it. The same goes for black people who know what justice is, and again for those who don’t know what justice is. Knowing how justice is supposed to work is not a function of skin pigmentation.
Think about this for just a few moments. What were Michael Brown and Eric Garner doing moments before they died? Hint: they both were involved with tobacco. Michael Brown was robbing a shopkeeper, walking out of a store with somebody else’s cigars. He was being a punk, a thug. Eric Garner was selling loose cigarettes, which meant tax-free cigarettes. He was interrupted by the police, because New York City insists on having a piece of that action. Eric Garner was not being a punk; New York City was being a punk.
When Michael Brown was stopped by Darren Wilson, he was stopped by a police officer who was doing exactly what a police officer ought to be doing — in this case following up on a reported theft. When Eric Garner was stopped by cops, he was being stopped by representatives of an officious and busy-pants nanny state, doing exactly what cops ought not to be doing. This is the same kind of thing that could have happened to someone being arrested for selling illegal Big Gulps.
I know why theft is against the law. Why is it against the law to sell cigarettes this way? When you multiply petty laws you are simply multiplying opportunities for contempt for the law to grow. And the more you multiply petty laws, the more the leeches in charge will feel like they have the right to “crack down on” those scofflaws who have managed to hang on to some of their own money. This was bad, but at least we aren’t using SWAT teams to deal with cigarette vendors. Or armored assault vehicles. Yet.
And so now the problem is that the Feds are coming in to fix everything. But they have already demonstrated their incompetence to deal with this kind of thing by their shameless pandering in the Ferguson situation. To add to the Tom Wolfe Bonfire atmosphere of everything, you have Al Sharpton parading back and forth like a rooster with an attitude, not to mention major tax liabilities. But the only real access the Feds have to the situation is by making it a civil rights issue. That means they have to racialize it whether or not it had anything to do with race. They only have the right to investigate it if they prejudge it.
But suppose Eric Garner was not taken down for the color of his skin. Suppose he was taken down because he was trying to do something he should have had every right to do. Suppose the problem there was not race, but a soft despotism that wants to tax the air you breathe. Suppose that Michael Brown had been a big Bulgarian, and he wound up just as dead. But all this is to suppose that the official media narrative on all this is dead wrong.
Take note. All the people who will take charge of this investigation, in order to ensure that justice is done, don’t appear to have the faintest idea what that word means.

71
Leave a Reply

avatar
 
71 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
29 Comment authors
Ken MillerKirsten MillerMattDaveJohnM Recent comment authors

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ben
Guest
Ben

I agree with all you’ve said here. One question, though: Is there any possible scenario in which a cop can be held morally blameless while enforcing an unjust law, such as the cigarette tax in New York? The whole “They’re just following orders” argument doesn’t work for me. Am I being unreasonable or judgmental in this?

David Smith
Guest
David Smith

Oh, this is rich! A notably leftist city with an ultra-lefty for a mayor, taxing just about any and everything in order to fund, among other things, entitlements for “Poor Black Folks”, while demonizing tobacco in every form, order their agents of the law to crack down on these “tax evaders”, to include one imminently black . . . Michael Garner, one whom they ostensibly care so darned much about! Indeed, this would be absolutely hilarious if it weren’t for this man’s death! At best, this is grim gallows humour; at worst, it’s the mark of a society well down… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
Member

Question: Does the video count as one line of eyewitness? We can look at the video and clearly see an illegal choke hold kill a man. Does that not establish the matter on the testimony of all of us who watch it?

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Similarities? “What were Michael Brown and Eric Garner doing moments before they died?”: They were physically resisting the police. In Garner’s case the relative innocuity of the act that led to police being there in the first place does not make his belligerent response any less predictably self destructive.

Jake
Guest

I’m kind of echoing what JohnM said: What were the cops supposed to do in that situation? It seems like a rather dangerous situation when a guy starts jerking his hands around when being placed under arrest, especially one that big. I have no love for laws like that, but I’m struggling to see what the cops *should* have done once the decision to arrest was made. I.e., how is a cop supposed to arrest someone who is refusing to be arrested but by force?

Ben
Guest
Ben

Jake, what the cops should have done in that situation was simply oblige Garner’s request to leave him alone. Garner’s non-violent resistance was completely justified, and in fact, had someone shot the cop who was choking him, that person would have been justified as well.

Jake
Guest

OK, Ben, I’ll bite: Assume the law being broken was one you agree should be illegal (assuming such laws do, in fact, exist). What then?

Jake
Guest

Sorry, Ben, for saying, “assuming such laws do, in fact, exist.” That was unnecessarily rude and unhelpful. Would you please forgive me?

Fake Herzog
Guest

JohnM hits the nail on the head with his comment. But I will go provocatively further. Imagine a small, little community with no cops but vigilante justice. Further imagine that this community has very low taxes on tobacco products (and low taxes in general) but at the same time a law on the books that no one will be allowed to sell single cigarettes out on the street, period. Why? Because parents don’t want their kids walking up to someone who does that and being able to purchase a single cigarette versus having to go into a store where they… Read more »

Tom
Guest
Tom

Yeah, the word “justice” has been used alot lately. In the words of Inigo Montoya,”You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Only an American conservative could turn a story about police brutality into yet another complaint about the nanny state. And you wonder why people say you don’t get it. And sorry, but you don’t get it. Neither do I, because it’s not something that can be intellectually understood. Black people have been brutalized in ways white people can only imagine through reading dystopian fiction, and if you haven’t lived it you don’t get it. White people reflexively defend the police in cases like this, because they fear deep down, or not so deep down in some cases, that without the… Read more »

Joe_Wa
Guest
Joe_Wa

What were the cops supposed to do in that situation? When someone is resisting arrest–especially for a non-violent crime–there are appropriate and inappropriate levels of force which law enforcers should use combat such resistance–right? I would say that using any move that has a reasonable potential for extreme levels of bodily injury or death I would be defined as excessive force–even for a big dude that looks all scary. If the move that the officer used to take down Garner could be defined as a choke-hold then especially so, because choke-holds are (according to the article below) barred from use… Read more »

Joe_Wa
Guest
Joe_Wa

If my above post is sloppy it’s because my keyboard is on the outs and I’ve had to get creative in regards to getting letter and words together coherently.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Pardon me for a moment, but if I might encourage you to select any other word but “thug” at this time. It’s a bit of an issue, as it seems to be popping up any time white people are describing the actions of a black person. I don’t mean to imply you use it with any racial charge, but take note that from professional athletes to common men, the word is transforming into a more palatable “n word” right before our eyes.

Ben
Guest
Ben

Jake, let’s assume the cops were coming to arrest Garner for murder (and let’s assume they had proof he was guilty). Obviously I agree murder should be illegal, so in that case, the cops have the right to take him to jail at gunpoint. But do you really think that the non-violent manner in which he resisted, even if he was guilty of murder, called for him being killed? Or what if he was a white collar criminal who ran a ponzi scheme (which I also think should be illegal)? Herzog, I couldn’t disagree more. That law would fundamentally be… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

@Jake, it was gracious of you to apologize, but from what I’m able to gather about Ben’s views you weren’t necessarily being unnecessarily rude but perhaps just descriptive. I’ll leave it to Ben to confirm or deny.

matt, If, along with conservatives, you don’t get the “it” that can’t be understood intellectually (“neither do I, you said”) how is it you manage to expound on “it” and how can you presume to preach “it” to the rest of us?

Ben
Guest
Ben

JohnM – When have I ever said nothing should be illegal? You really think I want murder and rape to be legal?

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

“Black people have been brutalized in ways white people can only imagine through reading dystopian fiction, and if you haven’t lived it you don’t get it.”
I think you’ve been reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin but I’ve been reading the papers and as long as I’ve been alive blacks have been brutalizing whites.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Channon_Christian_and_Christopher_Newsom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRYzGzYMRas
http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/01/us/st-louis-man-killed-hammer-attack/index.html
Its easy to morally preen about white lynching of blacks 150 years ago and pretend that its still going on but the fact is that blacks lynch whites on a regular basis.

Denise
Guest
Denise

What seems to be missing and will surely have an impact of any future civil lawsuit in the Garner case is that the officer IN CHARGE and ON SITE during the whole altercation was a black female! And at no time did she order a stand down!

Denise
Guest
Denise

sorry, forgot the link…
oh, and the two ranking sergeants present were offered immunity for their grand jury testimony.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/12/breaking-eric-garner-arrest-death-supervised-by-black-female-police-sergeant/

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Ben, thanks for the clarification. But illegal implies laws, which leads to enforcement, which amounts to coercion. And involves government, by whatever name you want to give it. But if I’ve misunderstood you I’m happen to be corrected.

Ben
Guest
Ben

JohnM – Coercion and force do not necessarily involve government. If someone is attacking you and you shoot them, you’ve used coercion. If a guy tells you he’s going to kill someone, and you hold him up in your house against his will to protect his potential victim, you’ve used coercion. Yet obviously your moral right to do these things has nothing to do with whether or not you’re acting on behalf of the state. The reason why coercion in these situations is OK is because you’re protecting people from those who initiate or plan to initiate violence. Anyone should… Read more »

Christin
Guest
Christin

Of some relevance is the fact that Garner was not strangled to death by the hold itself– and the officer was chastized for using such a hold against policy– but as an after effect due to his own body’s reaction (asthma). That much was unexpected, and unpredictable.
http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/staten-island-man-dies-puts-choke-hold-article-1.1871486

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

If someone is attacking you and you shoot them you might be acting reasonably, but it has nothing to do with enforcing a law against assault and everything to do with self-preservation. You’re not shooting to prevent someone from breaking a rule, you’re shooting because you want to live. But the point is, you brought legality, i.e. law, into it. Now you have necessarily involved government. How that government is funded is not the matter.

Jack Bradley
Guest
Jack Bradley

“Eric Garner was not being a punk; New York City was being a punk.”

Utterly nails it. Bingo!

Ben
Guest
Ben

JohnM – I really don’t disagree with anything you said in your last post. But whether or not government services, including legal services, are funded by taxation or service fees is kind of an important matter. If government is funded purely through service fees, it ceases to be what we call the “state.” It is voluntary government. I’m completely OK with this. Government is essential. I’ve made the argument on here before about how ridiculous it is that people can’t just opt out of government services. If they don’t want fire protection services, they should just not have to pay… Read more »

kyriosity
Member

And anybody who says that “white people don’t get it” is an essential part of the problem. Depends on what “it” is. I’m not hearing, “White people don’t get why these cases are equally unjust,” so much as I’m hearing, “White people don’t get the visceral identification that black people feel with both Brown and Garner, because despite where each case falls on the justice spectrum, we all know that it could have been us in ways that you probably don’t think it could have been you.” That, I believe, is worth trying to get–that feeling is worth trying to… Read more »

Mark B. Hanson
Guest
Mark B. Hanson

Valerie – A perfect summary of what I don’t understand, but need to. Thanks!

antexw
Member

Don’t resist civil authorities; they don’t bear the sword for nothing. Isn’t Ro 13 pretty clear on that? C’mon folks/commenters — it’s not that hard; surely resisting sword-bearing civil authorities who’re God’s avengers is the “causal” sin Ferguson and NYC have in common for which Brown and Garner reaped the just wage/effect through the violent sword of God’s minister’s of His anger/wrath (Ro 13:2,4; 6:23a). The belief that a law or its enforcement is/are unjust does not ’cause’ one to sin with a high hand in rebellion against the State by resisting civil authority, any more than it did for… Read more »

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

In both recent cases with have men that should never be working as police officers again, the cop in NYC because he can’t be trusted with life and death authority and Darren Wilson because he should make enough on libel suits to never have to work again.

Justin
Guest

So, Pastor Doug, do you think the cop should have been indicted?

Matt H
Guest
Matt H

This is one of the reasons I got out of law enforcement: the immense difficulty of trying to figure out how to bear the sword as a Christian while not being a part of the problem in enforcing nonsense nanny state laws like cigarette taxes. I was placed daily in situations where I had to deal with the tactical issues of non-compliant people, the safety issues of trying to get home to my family, and the much larger issues of whether I should’ve been in some of those situations to begin with. A lot more work from pastors on this… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Ben, when I said how government is funded is not the matter I only meant it is in fact government regardless of how it is funded. I’ll have to be brief at the moment but just a few observations. I think you’re making a faulty distinction between government and the state, with the latter as good (I am a bit surprised at you there – but agree) and the latter as your chief bogeyman. I want you protected from assault and robbery, and if you are assaulted or robbed I want the crime prosecuted, whether you pay for the service… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Correction: Make that “with the former as good”.

Jane
Member

What were the cops supposed to do in that situation?

Maybe let him go, since he’d not done anything that endangered anyone else until he was attacked by the police? Assuming it’s at all legitimate to pursue him for this crime, they could wait for a more opportune, safer moment to arrest him — do we really want to encourage the idea that non-violent criminals should be pursued to the death if they resist arrest?

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas
Justin
Guest

Matt H, I am a current cop and appreciated your post. I agree, more pastors who are willing to learn about law enforcement and wrestle with the challenges it poses to Christian police officers would be great. Jane Dunsworth, the idea is that the police should not have to back down from an arrest just because a suspect resists. It is the arrestee who chooses the level of force applied by police officers. Theoretically, the smallest arrestable infraction could turn into a deadly force situation depending on the level of resistance from the arrestee. Otherwise, all someone would have to… Read more »

mekt75
Member

why is the cigarette tax unjust? Every State has it.

Jane
Member

Barnabas, that’s “is.” I’m talking about “ought.” And even in your link, it says that you can back down if you’re likely to cause more harm to life or property than can be justified. Pretty much anything worse than a few scratches is more harm to life than I can justify for the enforcement of an excise tax.

David Smith
Guest
David Smith

Correction: Eric, not Michael, Garner!

Matt H
Guest
Matt H

Jane, Maybe let him go, since he’d not done anything that endangered anyone else until he was attacked by the police? I could get on board with that. Would any of the following make a difference (these are hypothetical, I’m not saying any of this happened with Garner)? 1. What if the officers ran his ID and found he had a lengthy and violent record? 2. What if the officers ran his ID and found he had an active warrant for his arrest? 3. Would it make a difference if the warrant were for a violent crime or a non-violent?… Read more »

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

I’m not understanding you with the “is” and “ought.” If you say law X is not worth killing someone over then there are a lot of laws that are not going to be enforced. I don’t think any of those cops went into that situation intending to kill that guy. You can’t stop enforcing laws against everything short of murder just because you might have to assert yourself physically. I’m just selling cigarettes, leave me alone. I just stole a candy bar, leave me alone. I took one tank of gas, is that a big deal. So I snatched a… Read more »

Jane
Member

I’m not saying don’t arrest him ever, I’m saying don’t keep escalating at that particular moment. There has got to be a way to get the jump on him at another time, or in another situation, or with adequate backup, or whatever, so that you don’t have to risk life and limb over untaxed cigarettes. And yes, it makes a big difference whether said person has a record of being a genuine threat. I freely admit I’m no expert so I don’t have all the answers but surely there is some ground between “don’t arrest people for petty, non-violent crimes”… Read more »

Matt Bell
Member

I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about the alleged illegality of the chokehold. How can a policeman be acquitted of that if it is as clearly illegal as is being claimed? Do further tactical quandaries really matter if the police brought down Garner in a prohibited way?

PB
Guest
PB

After reading and seeing the comments for the last week, I decided to watch the video. It is amazing how far from reality momentum can carry a story. If you have no history as a LEO, no experience with violent confrontations, or no experience grappling or wrestling with someone larger than yourself, you will have a difficult time understanding these types of interactions. One thing that must be understood is that police Must be in control in these types of situations. Until a subject is subdued and checked, there is no way of knowing what type of threat they pose.… Read more »

Matt H
Guest
Matt H

I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about the alleged illegality of the chokehold. How can a policeman be acquitted of that if it is as clearly illegal as is being claimed? Do further tactical quandaries really matter if the police brought down Garner in a prohibited way? Because “chokeholds” aren’t illegal, they’re against NYPD policy. I don’t know how that idea got so widespread but it should be put to bed. There may still be departmental discipline for the officer but it has nothing to do with the legality of chokeholds. There isn’t a list of legally “prohibited ways” to… Read more »

PB
Guest
PB

@Invisible,
That was not a choke “hold”. The officer was grabbing him around the neck and using it as a leverage point to bring him to the ground. Shortly after going to the ground, the neck is released. One arm around the neck is not an effective choking technique, especially on someone of Eric Garner’s size.

Jane
Member

To be clear, I don’t have a “suggested approach,” I’m merely trying to work out the possibilities. I’m just trying to find some way of saying that it doesn’t make sense to me that a person can wind up dead after being stopped for a minor violation of tax law, and everything can be considered jake. It seems like there should be a better way, though if the suggestions I’ve made so far are undesirable for whatever reason, I’m not invested in them.