“On my honor,
I will never betray my badge
My integrity, my character
Or the public trust.
I will always have
The courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the Constitution
my community and the agency I serve.”
The above is an excerpt from the “Oath of Honor,” and as stated on the IACP website, “that is recommended as by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as a symbolic statement of commitment to ethical behavior.” Police officers are called to serve and protect civilians. But, in the wake of police related murders involving unarmed men, how are they failing us as a community? Should we be concerned for our safety? Moreover, why are some failing to hold true to their pledge, breaking the very promise they swore to uphold.
On Wednesday, a Staten Island grand jury made the decision to not prosecute Officer Daniel Pantaleo who was involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a 43-year old unarmed black men. According to news reports, Mr. Garner was selling “loose” cigarettes. There were complaints from local businesses and that’s when the police decided to pay Eric a visit but little did the victim know that it would end deadly. This is the second incident that seems to mirror the verdict in the case of Michael Brown, who was the unarmed black man shot to death by another police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
But one questions remains. What caused Officer Pantaleo to wrestle Mr. Garner to the ground and proceed to lock him in a deadly chokehold? Social media was all abuzz as videos surfaced on the internet showing the officer pinning down Garner as he was heard saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” Did the officer hear him plea for his life? What happened in those short moments that Daniel didn’t let loose of his grip? Is there something that the videos did not capture? These questions will remain unanswered.
This has outraged the community and has called for action. It has sparked anger, protests and concerned not only from the black community, but from all walks of life. In the New York Times article, “Wave of Protests, After Grand Jury Doesn’t Indict Officer in Eric Garner Chokehold Case,” President Obama was quoted as saying, “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem,…and it’s my job as president to help solve it.”
We as people are calling for justice;
We are calling for proper legal prosecution and adequate punishment for anyone who breaks the law; including officers because they are not “above the law;”
We are calling for racial fairness because everyone is innocent until proven guilty, no matter the color of your skin;
We are calling to an end of young black men dying;
We are calling for an end to the police brutality.