This afternoon, a Staten Island grand jury refused to indict New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July 17th killing of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black man who died of a heart attack after Pantaleo put Garner in a chokehold, a maneuver illegal for NYPD officers. A medical examiner ruled Garner’s death as due to both the chokehold and restriction of his chest as police officers put their weight on him.
Despite claims that NYPD acted appropriately, a widely circulated video showed police officer conduct in the moments prior to Garner’s death (embedded after the jump).
By now, it’s probably unnecessary for me to explain who Robert P. McCulloch is, but I will do it anyways. McCulloch is the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County. It was McCulloch’s job to bring an indictment against Officer Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown earlier this year; and, if an indictment was passed down by the grand jury, it was McCulloch’s job to prosecute Wilson. It was Robert P. McCulloch’s job to advocate for Michael Brown, and to seek justice in his death.
It’s also unnecessary for me to explain how Robert P. McCulloch utterly failed in this task. It’s unnecessary for me to discuss how McCulloch sabotaged the grand jury proceedings; how he never met with the Brown family; how he sought to confuse the jury with an excess of data and a lack of narrative; how, in the end, he was simply disinterested in building a legitimate criminal case against Wilson. It’s unnecessary for me to talk about what Arthur Chu describes as his confoundingly “tone deaf” announcement of the grand jury’s findings Monday night, where he blamed protesters, mainstream media, social media, and Michael Brown, hismself — everyone but Darren Wilson — in Brown’s death and its aftermath. It’s unnecessary for me to point out that while McCulloch’s office was ostensibly building a case against Wilson, his organization “BackStoppers” helped raise nearly half a million dollars to benefit Wilson’s legal fund.
Put more plainly, it’s completely unnecessary for me to tell you that Robert P. McCulloch is a man who has no business continuing to draw a $160,000 per year paycheck as St. Louis County’s prosecuting attorney.
This post will explain how we can change that, in three easy steps.
Yesterday, President Obama post-humously awarded James Chaney the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in this country. Chaney, along with Cornell students Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, was a freedom rider travelling through rural Mississippi to register Black voters when he was lynched and killed. He was 21.
Fifty years after his death and just hours after his memory was honoured, we received the heart-breaking (but entirely expected) verdict: there would be no justice for yet another Black man killed far too young. The justice system has failed Black America, yet again.
Last night, President Obama addressed the nation, urging us to recognize the country’s “enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades.” The president is right — much has changed since the summer of 1964.
Yet, much has not.
Three hours ago, exactly, Ferguson district attorney Bob McCulloch stood before the nation and reminded us how little Black lives truly matter. Over the course of twenty minutes, McCulloch presented in excruciating detail his version of the events that occurred on August 9th of this year. McCulloch prosecuted Mike Brown’s guilt with a meticulous fervor that stood in stark contrast with his disdainful disinterest in finding fault with Officer Darren Wilson’s actions that day.
There was never — could never have been — an advocate for Michael Brown in the grand jury proceedings. This was a grand jury that was 75% White, asked to see the humanity of a Black teenager. This was a prosecutor who, despite his job being to speak on behalf of the victim, clearly perceived the victim in this situation to be Officer Darren Wilson, and not the teenager whom Wilson may have illegally killed.
Mike Brown was not even given the dignity of a trial, where someone might have presented the argument that the taking of his life might have been unjust.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong this week to participate in a mass act of non-violent civil disobedience against the Chinese government. For days, protesters — many of them college-aged students and teenagers — have gathered near the city’s government buildings; they are chanting, marching, raising their fists, sleeping on the street, and wielding umbrellas against tear gas — all in defiance of a political and economic ruling class that threatens to revoke a democratic process promised to Hong Kong voters since the city’s 1997 handover from British rule to the Chinese government.
Most of us have been enthralled with the events in Hong Kong right now. We are following the events in Hong Kong with anticipation through mainstream news and social media. But, we must do more than offer just our support for the events taking place on the streets of Hong Kong right now; we should be getting inspired. Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests are not just another demonstration happening somewhere halfway around the world; they have become an international symbol of freedom against political and economic tyranny that is informed by, and is informing, the experiences of AAPI and Americans alike.
Those of us in the West should be taking note.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!