I Can't Breathe - Khadija Mahamud

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the case in which Eric Garner was murdered on July 17th 2014, by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Garner was stopped in Staten Island on suspicion of selling cigarettes illegally. Officers attempted to arrest him and as he denied this allegation other officers rushed to hold him down, with Pantaleo pinning him to the floor and putting him in a chokehold. Struggling Garner repeatedly shouted to officers “I can’t breathe.” For whatever reason his desperate pleas were ignored, resulting in his death moments later. The worst was yet to come as; despite the city’s medical examiner ruling his death a homicide, the jury gave a ‘not guilty’ verdict, claiming they found “no reasonable cause to vote an indictment” allowing his killer, Daniel Panatelo to walk free. Whether a cruel twist of fate or intentionally, the verdict came out a week after police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for killing Michael Brown, highlighting the lack of a just judicial system. The irony of referring to themselves as ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’ couldn’t be more self evident, as the president of this free land is yet to comment directly on the case, merely remarking that the decision speaks to “the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way.” Amazing isn’t it how observant the president of America is? Yes, Obama we are very much aware of this problem, as recent cases have highlighted, but we’re not asking you to point out the obvious, we’re asking you what exactly you’re doing about this? 

Cruel. Unjust. Inhumane. Institutionalized racism. Police brutality. These are a few of words that instantly come to mind, yet none of them feel strong enough to convey the anger, loss and pain left from the tragedy that occurred. I feel suffocated by a sense of hopelessness, as once again history repeats itself. “I can’t breathe.” Those were the last words uttered by Eric Garner and it’s exactly how I feel, as my brain refuses to accept the verdict of Pantaleo. Slavery might have been abolished long ago, but racism still lives on. We live in a world with a system that was never designed to protect us all equally. A system created by the white man, designed to protect the white man will only ever sustain the white man. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can challenge this, because until then justice will never be served. 

Black lives matter.  

Rest in peace Eric

By Khadija Mahamud


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