Members of Internet sites that allow law enforcement to air out issues are expressing outrage and offense over public reaction to last week's death of a New York City man after police administered a chokehold, which is against police department policy.
Saying that Eric Garner was overweight at 350-400 pounds and battling asthma, many posters on the sites TheeRant and PoliceOne.com said the Staten Island father and husband brought his death last Thursday upon himself. They said his health contributed to his cardiac arrest, and that their interpretation of an eyewitness video of Garner's altercation with police last Thursday was that he resisted arrest.
Police said they suspected Garner of selling untaxed cigarettes when they approached him on a sidewalk. He told them he'd done nothing wrong. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Meantime, the family of Garner, 43, prepared for a funeral slated for Wednesday evening in Brooklyn at which the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, was scheduled to speak. Police Commissioner William Bratton said during a briefing Tuesday that officers would receive training on the use of violence at that some of his investigators had spoken with the FBI. Bratton said he would not be surprised if the agency opened a civil rights investigation.
As developments continued to evolve, reaction simmered and brewed on the two law enforcement sites. In one comment, a poster referred to "Stop and Frisk," a former policy that allowed members of law enforcement to stop anyone on the street who they deemed suspicious. Opponents of the policy argued that it unfairly targeted young minority men while former Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed it as an effective crime deterrent. Users of the sites are allowed to post anonymously but they are required to register.
On PoliceOne.com, one person wrote, "Mayor you killed our effectiveness on the street, when you killed Stop and Frisk. Because of a few bleeding heart liberals and a few ethnic groups who believe they are the only ones being stopped. You shut down the whole system. Because now all those baggy … pants you see walking around are probably locked and loaded."
Another referred to a video tape of Garner's altercation with police that went viral. On the tape, Garner is heard saying eight times "I can't breathe" as police press his head into the sidewalk.
"If you can talk you can breathe! A strong and deadly choke hold would not allow a person to talk," the poster wrote.
Wrote another person, "Again if Mr walking heart attack had simply put his hamburger shovels behind his back, he wouldn't have had a heartbattackmfor (sic) over exerting himself."
On a site called Thee Rant, someone wrote, "He probably never worked a legit job. The city will pay off the family and they will be in (racial epithet) heaven for the rest of their lives!"
Wrote another, "ERIC GARNER? Yeah! Sure you are! A Nordic/Germanic given name and Anglo-Saxon surname! How dare you steal our names! You are hereby posthumously renamed MOBUTU TAKANUKU!"
Two emergency medical technicians and two paramedics who work for Richmond University Medical Center, where Garner was pronounced dead, have been suspended without pay and two police officers who were on the scene have had their guns and badges taken away while an internal affairs unit investigates. The Staten Island District Attorney's office also is investigating.