Stacey Patton and David J Leonard at the BBC look at why some victims get blamed for being killed by the police.
“You had a 350lb (158.8kg) person who was resisting arrest. The police were trying to bring him down as quickly as possible,” New York Representative Peter King told the press. “If he had not had asthma and a heart condition and was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died.”
This sort of logic sees Garner’s choices as the reasons for his death. Everything is about what he did. He had a petty criminal record with dozens of arrests, he (allegedly) sold untaxed cigarettes, he resisted arrest and disrespected the officers by not complying.
It’s as if the cops were a chainsaw or a cliff edge or an erupting volcano – unconscious things that human beings need to be careful of.
According to Bob McManus, a columnist for The New York Post, both Eric Garner and Michael Brown, the teenager shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson Missouri, “had much in common, not the least of which was this: On the last day of their lives, they made bad decisions. Especially bad decisions. Each broke the law – petty offenses, to be sure, but sufficient to attract the attention of the police. And then – tragically, stupidly, fatally, inexplicably – each fought the law.”
As one might fight a chainsaw or a volcano. If you get killed, well, what did you expect?
But why not talk instead about the choices the cops made, they ask.
Yet, we focus on Eric Garner’s choices.
Such victim-blaming is central to white supremacy.
Emmett Till should not have whistled at a white woman.
Amadou Diallo should not have reached for his wallet.
Trayvon Martin should not have been wearing a hoodie.
And so on, for a long list of examples.
The irony is these statements are made in a society where white men brazenly walk around with rifles and machine guns, citing their constitutional right to do so when confronted by the police.
Cliven Bundy pointed his gun at a bunch of federal cops and drove them away. Cliven Bundy is not a person of color.
Strange, isn’t it.