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Eric Garner: When a black man’s life is worth $5.9 million

Eric Garner facebook pic

On July 17, 2014, at approximately 3:30 p.m. in Staten Island, New York, Eric Garner was approached by New York City police officers who suspected him of selling loose cigarettes. Moments later, after being placed in a chokehold deemed illegal by New York City, the life of Eric Garner ended. Though the incident was caught on video and Garner can clearly be heard saying “I can’t breathe,” a grand jury failed to indict the officer who killed him, sparking nationwide protests.

Four days before the anniversary of Garner’s death, the city Of New York reached an agreement with Garner’s family to settle the case out of court for $5.9 million. Though the Garner family almost certainly would have received more in a court settlement, they didn’t want to continue reliving an incident that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. In this instance, the value of a Black man’s life, that of Eric Garner, was worth $5.9 million. But what is the cost of a Black man’s life?

Life is invaluable, irreplaceable, yet in this country, far too many lives of black men are lost, at little to no cost, and certainly not that of $5.9 million. I am certain the Garner family would gladly trade the money for the life of their loved one. At the same time, it is a victory, outside of the financial aspect, to get New York City to amount to wrongdoing.

If municipalities like New York City were forced to pay $5.9 million every time a Black man was murdered, the senseless killings would end. But the truth is, it feels as if this country is more concerned about the well-being of people in other nations while the genocide of Black men continues within this country.

But what if the value of every murdered Black man was $5.9 million? The country would either go bankrupt or it would stop. In 2013, the last year statistics are available, The Centers for Disease Control  and Prevention reports that the No. 1 cause of death of Black men ages 15-34 is homicide, with killings making up nearly half of all deaths for Black men ages 15-24. While there are no statistics available on the number of black men lost to homicide in 2013, the number is thought to be at least in the hundreds.

But the families of countless, nameless Black men who die every day in this country aren’t going to receive $5.9 million or even a fraction of that money. These Black men barely receive social media or news media attention, and their families even less. In cities like Chicago, Baltimore and New York, young Black men are dying every day, and not enough seem to give a damn. Metaphorically speaking, I can’t breathe when I read about the countless murders of Black men and the CDC statistics. Unfortunately, when Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe” while the life was being choked out of him, he wasn’t speaking metaphorically, and neither are the countless, nameless Black men who take their last breath every day as a result of homicide.

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3 Comments

  1. Nigg.Newton on July 20, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Excellent article/blog!

    This is real JOURNALISM and RollingOut is the only Black online avenue/website to get this type of serious, articulate and meaningful information online.

  2. kelly on July 20, 2015 at 11:42 am

    dont forget the black man in mississippi last week a cop choked to death cause he ask him not to harrass people . cops are clearly costing the state to much , if they dont take heed and train these fools to use a gun , and to administer justice correctly , its gonna continue who the hell do you think the off spring of the kkk is ? WE ARE ASKING THE KKK , SKIN HEADS , TO POLICE OUR STREETS , ur goverment knows that ex miliary white men are mostly low classed whites who rallyed at kkk rallies before going to the miltary or their fathers grand wizards . they are taught this behavior wayyyy before the put that badge on .. so what do we do ? as a race millions of dollars is not satisfying the root of the problem . anyone can get money live descent but that dont bring back the most valuable thing you have LIFE{ i really think they should send these cops to the prison if you admitt it was murder and you pay means it was WHY NOT LOCK UP THE COPS SO THAT OTHER COPS WILL GET THE MESSAGE AND DO THEIR JOB WITH FAIRNESS TO CITIZENS? THE POINT THIS ARTICLE MISSED IS THIS HAS TO BE STOPPED AT A LEGISLATIVE LEVEL OUR HANDS ARE TIED IF NO ONE IS MARCHING BUT A COUPLE OF DAYS AND QUITTING …. WE NEED MARCHES TO THE SUPREME COURT TO CHANGE THESE POLICE PROCEDURE TRAINING METHIODS . .

    WHO EVER TOLD THEM SHOOT FIRST ASK QUESTIONS LATER IS THE BULL SHIT THAT NEEDS TO BE ABOLISHE NOWWWWWWW

  3. kelly on July 20, 2015 at 11:54 am

    the USA LAWS HAVE A PACK .. dont lock up cops period , dont give them the death penalty for cold blood premediatatd murder? and draw the line at prosecutoring cop even thought they have caught them laundering money, rapping females in their cars , shooting children in unorganized swat raids , shooting black men in the back for running … hitting beating black women up punching like a man ….
    and choking the shit outta black men to kill them YET THEY ARE EXEMPT FROM PROSECUTION? I RESPECT IRAN AND INDIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES CAUSE IF YOU KILL A WOMAN HURT A CHILD ARE HARM A CITIZEN OVER THER AND YOUR FOUND GUILTY YOU HANG!! UNIFORM OR NOT . .. if we are a country who say an eye for an eye fry folks like thanksgiving celebration in texas on death row for murders they may not have done ..THEN WHY THE HELL DO COPS GET TO
    JUST BE FIRED FROM A JOB /??? OR MURDER THAT IS PROVEN TO BE MURDER?? ERIC GARNER KILLER WAS NO MORE PRECIOUS THAN TIMOTHY MCVEIGH OR TED BUNDY .. SO WHY DO THEY GET A PASS …. WOULD BE NICE IF WE ALL COULD KILL WHO WE WANT JUST CAUSE WE DONT LIKE THEM AND RETIRE TO A PALM TREE WITH PINA COLADAS!! YOU DONT HEAR NOTHING FROM ANY THESE COPS AFTER THE POLICE DEPT LET THEM GO … where do they go? how come you see zimmerman enjoying life but dont see them . THATS BECAUSE WE KNOW THEY GOT AWAY WITH MURDER WHITES CANT LIE THIS TIME AND SAY A COP WAS DOING HIS JOB … TO CHOKE A MAN FOR SELLING CIGARETTES HE PAID FOR .. .

    YOU CANT LIE AND CALL HIM A THUG LIKE YOU DID MIKE BROWN . WE NEEDED PROOF AND RIP ERIC GARNER LOST HIS LIFE PROVING WE WERE RIGHT RACISM IN AMERICA IS FROM THE HIGHEST DEGREE OF LAW TO THE LOWEST .. WE ARE STILL A TARGET TO WHITES WHO STILL DONT VALUE US AS A PEOPLE PERIOD