It is no secret what the featured image for this blog post is directly relating to, the death by police chokehold of Eric Garner. Eric reportedly said, “I can’t breathe” almost 11 times to the police officers arresting him, allegedly for selling individual cigarettes on New York’s streets. Half of this image simply depicts that specific event whilst the other half describes the overall issue that Eric Garner’s death was a symptom of, the racial inequality of police brutality. It is an irrefutable fact that black and African American citizens of the United States of America are many more times likely to be killed, either by gunfire or chokeholds than their white counterparts. Evidence for this situation is aplenty, you need only look and the multitude of cases similar to Eric Garners and the debates that inevitably spring up in regards to them. The list of victims of police violence includes Dontre Hamilton from Milwaukee, John Crawford from Ohio, Micheal Brown Junior from Ferguson and Ezell Ford from California. It goes on and on, with the details of the fact changing only slightly, varied causes of death from injuries sustained during the arrests to shot to death whilst unarmed.
The picture painted is one of systemic racism in today’s law enforcement agencies and this is the point of the image, the depiction of a young black individual being hung by the neck, in relation to a cop placing a similar young man in an illegal chokehold. This image has a singular complex meaning, demonstrating the aforementioned institutional racism of today’s ‘developed’ world through simple image association, the hopelessness of a hanging victim to the unequal playing field of the social and legal climate of the current Western World.
It also exposes issues with police accountability, such as lack of persecution after such tragedies as described by the image, to the rising epidemic of ‘bad apples’, badly or undertrained officers often infected with unreasonable belief or opinions that affect their work. Lack of persecution can come down to the simple fact that police shootings or incidents are often investigated by a police officers colleagues. The assumed level of brotherhood and family is clearly a conflict of interest because no one wants to throw their family in jail. Even further along the line is the prosecutors and lawyers that the police work with on a daily basis as well. How can anyone a police officer works with so closely be expected to turn around and pull up every negative part of said police officer’s past that lead them to the predicament they could potentially be in? This is not even with regard to the diversity numbers withing western police forces at the moment with some American counties have less than five non-white individuals on staff at any one time.
Overall this complex, the political image depicts the issue of systemic racism and a broken police force in the western world of today.