Cleaning up America. Getting rid of the undesirables; killing one poor Black man at a time.

Eric Garner, who was black and poor, said he couldn’t breathe and nobody listened.

“I can’t breathe” are the same words my asthmatic daughter has awakened me with, a deathly fright in her wavering voice, many early mornings at 3 a.m.

He said “I can’t breathe” and the police slammed his head to the pavement and held it there.

She says, “I can’t breathe,” and I put on a robe and quickly slip my feet into the ever-ready slippers at the side of my bed.

She says, “I can’t breathe” and we’re in the car headed to the ER within five minutes, and she has never had to say the words twice.

He said, “I can’t breathe” and his voice grew weaker with every utterance (was it eleven of them that we heard on the video tape?) yet those who are sworn to protect and serve – the police – kept him on the ground.

With an illegal chokehold, he was wrestled onto the sidewalk where he died on the street in New York City

America, we’ve been programmed to believe “God shed his grace on thee.”

I’ve watched my kid struggle to breathe and I’ve watched her pulmonary team bring her back from knocking on death’s door.

But she wasn’t on the corner hustling to make a dime. She didn’t have a wife and a houseful of kids to provide for. She’s not a black male. She’s not on the endangered list.

How much of a crime was the “big guy” committing by selling single cigarettes?

The crime committed by the New York Police most clearly trump whatever the charges would have been, if they hadn’t killed Garner before they hauled him off to jail.

And they’d booked him many times in the past.

This time, before the bunch of uniformed terrorists took him down, we can hear him on the tape, pleading with his assassins to be left alone.

I woke up this morning at 3 a.m. and, in my head, I could hear the big guy saying, “ I can’t breathe.”

I thought it must have been Brandi, my kid with asthma. I turned over but she wasn’t at my bedside. I put on my robe and those house slippers, anyway, and went to her room.

She was asleep and breathing well. But I was by her side because I take very seriously that as a mother, I’m here to protect, to serve and to keep her alive.




This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jean Troy

    I so agree with you, my daughter had bronchitis so I would awaken to coughing and with each cough choking, and gasping for air. I would put on those handy slippers and robe, and would marshall the troupes my Husband would start the shower for steam and I would get out the antibiotics. We too felt this need to protect and serve and so many a night we spent setting by her bed making sure of the next clean breath. We still got up the next morning and made it to our respective jobs while she slept at Grandma’s house. So when anyone says they can’t breathe I go into panic mode, so to see these tough guys taking down a Man whose only crime was to try and hustle a few dollars for his family and then see them stand coldly by while he died.Just brings tears to my eyes and heart. This is so unjust and so unfair but I have faith that they will be judged and He will be exsonerated.

  2. Laura Monteros

    It grieves me, truly grieves me, to know that, completely physically unprovoked, one man can jump another and murder him–and then get off scott free. If the man had been a a regular guy instead of a cop, he would have been arrested for murder. I am deeply disappointed in Chief Bratton, who I thought made some progress in LA. The feds are looking into this case; there is still a possiblity of federal prosecution. Also, there is good case for a civil suit. But, as Garner’s daughter said, nothing will bring her dad back.

  3. Walt Haddock

    I can somewhat understand the Michael Brown grand jury’s decision but I think it would have been much better decided in open court where witnesses, et al, could be cross examined instead of decided in secret just not to indict. However, in the Eric Garner case, there appears to be absolutely no justification for not indicting the police officer who used a murderous and illegal choke hold and held it through all of Garner’s protestations that he couldn’t breathe. Then for the police union spokesman to declare that since Garner could whisper the words, “I can’t breathe,” makes thew police union, in my opinion, complicit in Garner’s murder. Yes, murder. I can understand Officer Williams’ fearing for his life, but the New York officer was not, nor did he consider himself, threatened in any way.

  4. Greta Pruitt

    This is one of the saddest times of my life. I have lived too long, lived through the hope I got from Lyndon Johnson’s August, 1963 speech, to see what is now a travesty of police injustice over and over again. Lyndon Johnson had been a teacher of poor, non-white children and the education he received as a teacher changed this man. He knew the impact of poverty and the hope these children possessed for a better country. Now we lack this kind of leadership – anywhere in the government – even at the top where the President talks about the importance of “men being fathers present in their children’s lives.” Eric Garner was present. He was a father. He was killed in this era of non-existent humanity or concern for the lives and families of others. I have never been more disappointed, Shirlee. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. -Nate

    What I don’t understand is how the NYC Coroner says it’s a Homicide yet no one has seriously considered bringing these rogue cops to Justice for killing a man in cold blood .

    No doubt they’ll soon begin saying ‘ well , those Black guys , they can’t be contained so we have to be rough ‘ or some other rubbish .


  6. Bill Allen, Jr.

    Dear Shirlee,
    This is a “Tower BEYOND Tragedy,” as my father used to say. I remember you telling me about the emergencies with Brandi and the ER /traumatic Hospitalizations; concerning Brandi’s asthma attacks. I could relate so well; for I too am asthmatic (sometimes with tendencies toward bronchitis too). It is a VERY scary and PAINFUL predicament to be in at any given time.

    After having had an asthma/anxiety attack earlier in my day, I still had to drive to take care of an important family matter. Unfortunately, I had an encounter with a very surly-authoritative-policeman, concerning the re-adjustment of my FASTENED seatbelt (that I had done) to ease my pain/inflammation across my lungs/chest; while I was driving. Giving an explanation & showing my asthmatic medications to the policeman (because I had the medicines with me in the car) proved to all be in vain. I could sense that he was hoping for “a protest” on my part. As a Black man, I am ALWAYS “mindful” of “the proper protocol of ‘behavior’ that I must maintain” in order not to be “accidentally” or “force-ably” maintained or killed. GOD blessed me to not have been born in the days of Kunta Kinte. Oh, I’m sorry—- THESE A-R-E THE DAYS OF KUNTA! After my encounter, I knew that I had been guilty of “driving while Black,” regardless of my asthma attack and the effen seatbelt. But at least I didn’t get my head shoved down to the concrete.

    “I Can’t Breathe.”

    At least I didn’t get an illegal choke hold.

    “I Can’t Breathe.”

    At least I’m not dead.

    “I Can’t Breathe.”

    But, I AM dis-spirited, pained, and upset on a daily basis about the LACK OF HUMANITY that we live in, in THIS society. There is no regard for freedom; there is no regard for human dignity; there is no regard for human decency; there is no regard for L-I-F-E. I hate to think that GOD wasted His/Her Time and Talents in “blowing Life into and molding 100 pounds of clay.” But it certainly looks that way.

    “I Can’t Breathe.”

    If I can remember —-not go to the convenient store and buy Skettles; or don’t play my music too loud in my long bed truck while parked in mall parking lot; or sell any “single” cigarettes’ or charge toward anyone like a “football player”—-then I guess I’ll be o.k. (???).

    “My Hands Are Up.”

    “I’m Not a Gang Member, I’m Just Wearing My Hoodie to Stay Warm.”

    “I Can’t Breathe.”

    As Nina Simone once asked us…and sang to us…AIN’T IT HARD JUST TO …LIVE?
    IF…we can call this living.

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