In the new millennium, the brutality that African-Americans experience at the hands of law enforcement officers is not only predictable, but also expected. No one should be shocked that Mr. Eric Garner has lost his life at the hands of “law enforcement officers”. The fact that it was caught on camera is the only shocking element of the entire incident.
Within the pantheon of African-Americans, male and female, who have met their demise at this familiar adversary, Eric Garner is nothing special; he joins a lengthy list of victims such as Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Carl Hampton, Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, the list stretches across several centuries.
The murder of African-Americans by “law enforcement officers” invariably brings forth the exact same “playbook” by those who proclaim to represent the community, be it preachers, community activists, Black Nationalist leaders, and/or elected officials. This playbook consists of several predictable actions/activities:
A. We will decry the murder of an innocent Black person.
B. We will call for an ‘independent investigation’ of the matter.
C. The militants will publicly spew hollow threats at law enforcement agencies that amount to little more than ‘mental masturbation’.
D. We will hold rallies and press conferences to address the pernicious issue of police brutality.
E. We will hold a march to call attention to the issue.
F. We will then bury our dead and return home heartbroken with a righteous indignation that promises ‘never again’; that is until the next time it occurs, and we all know that there will be a next time.
The alluded to reactionary playbook has repeatedly failed us. And as the great saying goes, ‘if you do what you always did, you gon’ get what you always got.” Such is a lesson that “race leaders” have failed to recognize.
Although Mr. Eric Garner is central to this incident, there is a larger lesson to be learned here. It is this realization that drives my belief that it is impossible for African-Americans to honor Mr. Eric Garner by securing anything resembling to justice. Put simply, our reactionary nature, lack of cohesiveness and political disorganization prevent such an occurrence.
When will African-Americans learn that threats, public statements, and wearing out of shoe leather is NOT a winnable strategy for dealing with institutional racism found amongst law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, or even within financial institutions. Antiquated protest activities barely place demands, let alone a significant threat, upon politically organized entities.
It is only through an already mobilized political force that a significant blow to institutions and those individuals who make up those institutions may be delivered. Put simply, the lack of political currency and cohesion leaves the African-American community completely vulnerable to the repeated attacks of law enforcement agencies.
Unfortunately, the reaction of our “leaders” to the murder of Mr. Eric Garner came out of a centuries old playbook that has yet to work. Such an occurrence is the greatest indicator that not only will there be continuing abuses upon African-Americans by law enforcement officers, but also the African-American community will remain powerless in either preventing or responding to the incident in a significant way. It is only through correcting intra-racial political disorganization and inefficiency that we will ever be positioned to secure justice for future victims of police brutality within our community.
Sadly, we simply do not possess the ability to secure justice for our most recently fallen brother, Mr. Eric Garner. Considering such, I will offer the most significant statement that I, or any African-American, can issue; Rest In Peace, brother.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III