Staten Island Community Turned Upside Down After Eric Garner’s Death

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chokeTompkinsville, a small community, sits on the northeast side of Staten Island, not far from the ferry terminal where people meet to come and go to and from Manhattan.

Staten Island is the least populated and whitest borough in New York City, but the north shore is more diverse. It is there where Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, was killed by police officer Daniel Pantaleo. He died on a sidewalk near his house.

When the grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo for killing Garner with the department-banned chokehold technique, concerned citizens in New York City and across the world reacted with anger and disappointment.

Garner’s Staten Island neighbors told CNN how they felt about Garner’s death and what it meant that there was no indictment of the officer.

For Twan Scholar, who knew Garner for 25 years, the death of his friend further illuminated the problem of young Black men dying.

“The government worries about all these other countries, but what about folks being killed by police on our own streets,” he asked.

Enoch Karim, who was on the ferry to Staten Island with his daughter Takeya, said, “We’ve become desensitized to these murders.”

Karim’s son and Garner sold “loosie” cigarettes for extra money “instead of stealing,” he told CNN.

“They killed Big E and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Karim said his son told him after watching Garner die.

Rodney Lee, who runs the Bay Beauty Supply store that Garner and Pantaleo nearly crashed into, asked, “Why do we have to be scared of the cops?”

In response to the outrage over the indictment, a new citywide pilot program for the use of body cameras by police officers was put into effect recently. Fifty-four officers in six precincts across the city began wearing body cameras.

While that does answer the demands of some protesters, others don’t believe it’ll make a difference.

“There was a camera that told a big story,” Edward Josey, president of the Staten Island chapter of the NAACP, told The Staten Island Advance. “What’s to tell us that police wearing cameras that the results would be any better?”

 

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