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Why did the Garner death/grand jury receive so much less attention than Ferguson?


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I understand why Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted in the death of Eric Garner. It sucks, but I understand the results. I also understand why this would outrage people and ideally lead to laws and police training being changed, etc.

 

There is video available. It is obvious Garner was in no way a serious threat to the life or safety of anybody around him. He was asking them to leave him alone and simply (and most likely justifiably) agitated.

Yet this story, which demonstrates, IMO, a clear bad guy* and clear flaws in the legal system had one fraction of the coverage of Ferguson.

 

Why do you think that is?

 

For me, as more and more information came out in the Garner death (hearing a blurb, reading about it, finally watching the video), it seemed more and more outrageous and disgusting, whereas the opposite occurred with Michael Brown's death (not that I'm at the opposite of "outraged and disgusted," which I imagine would be "smug and satisfied," but I think you get what I mean -- it just is what it is). Yet as more and more ambiguity was mixed into the Brown shooting, it seemed like the collective outrage and disgust actually grew (and on all sides)!

 

What sort of convergence led to so much coverage and collective outrage over an incident where there will never be 100% conclusive guilt or innocence, no chance of a satisfying conclusion, compared to one where the officer's guilt/incompetence is so much more cut-and-dried?

 

Do you think the fact that people have strong feelings and disagreements over the Brown shooting led to more coverage? Was it just a convergence of opportunity?

 

 

 

 

* or, if you want to be charitable: a hothead with poor training and poorer judgment

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Good question, pong. I was actually thinking about this myself earlier today- incidentally, I think we share the same opinion (at least, in regards to Brown v. Garner).

 

To me, Garner is a completely different case, and quite honestly, a much stronger one against the police.

 

I think part of it is how the media reported the stories initially, and the victims. For whatever reason, the media didn't pick up on the Garner story in the same way as Brown, and so it never became a national news story. As I said- part of it is the victims: Garner is a man in his 40s with a long criminal record. Whereas Brown is an 18 year old with no criminal record.

 

The story starts to write itself from there. The facts in the Brown story just lend itself better to sensationalism- for example, Brown involved a shooting (and the, by now, famous "arms up" gesture). Whereas Garner is just some middle aged guy that died in the hospital (if I'm not mistaken).

 

So there's a degree of shock value missing from the Garner story. For lack of better words- it's harder to get hits on your website reporting Garner. For whatever reason, it just doesn't get the same visceral reaction.

 

 

And like I said, I'm with you that this is a shame. The Garner case lends itself to facts that are, in my opinion, significantly more troublesome than the Brown shooting, but no one really seems to give a sh-t. Oh well. Pretty much par for the course for this country.

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Whereas Brown is an 18 year old with no criminal record.

Yes, true. I remember when I first heard about the Brown shooting he was portrayed as a big sweet kid, about to go to college, just walking to his grandmother's house minding his own business -- suddenly shot for no reason other than to satisfy the racist bloodlust of some hick cop.

 

I wish I could remember it more clearly, but I think it was at least 1-2 weeks before I heard anything that ran counter to that narrative.

 

With Garner, people are still blaming him for resisting arrest -- no new facts surfacing, no change of narrative. Of course, I understand arresting people is part what police do, but there is a right way and a wrong way of doing things, there is good judgement and bad judgement.

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I think there might also be something to the fact that the Brown case was possibly (probably?) caused by a split-second reaction that stems from an apparent racist mindset. Whereas with Garner, a stronger case could be made for simply bad police judgement with race taking more of a back seat. With conflicting witness accounts in the Brown death, it's really easy to project race into the equation and make up the rest of the facts. Was he resisting? Was Wilson screaming "DIE ******" in his head when he shot? Did Brown attack Wilson?

 

But with Garner, the incident is right there for all to see. He wasn't resisting violently, but he wasn't completely compliant either. There's less room for people's imaginations to run wild with sensational versions of the story. Not that I, personally, believe that race wasn't a factor in either case, just that the entire ordeal with Garner requires less of my own bias to fill in the holes. But it was very clearly a problem with the officer and his poor judgement. Less wiggle room to interpolate a maliciousness that may or may not have been present.

 

Plus everything the two of you just stated.

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Guest El Chalupacabra

I think the big difference is that there was video for the Garner case, but none existed for the Brown incident. So, that left a lot more room for both sides in the Brown case to just give completely contradictory information and argue over what "actually" happened.

 

However, I have to say that with the Garner case, I personally think the police totally over reacted there. Unlike Brown, who was actually a suspect in strong arm robbery (the cop at the time didn't know that, but Brown DID, which is why I tend to believe the truth is likely closer to what the cop said in that case) I think between the two cases, if I were a civil rights, or even just someone protesting against over zealous cops putting their hands on people, I would have been all over the Garner case. From what I understand, while Garner did have an arrest record going back to 1980, when he was being arrested at the time of his death, it was over selling cigarettes...basically a bootlegger.

 

This put police in the role of being tax collectors, something that really, to me, didn't warrant an arrest or putting their hands on the guy. At most, a ticket or something like that. Now I know the counter argument is "the law is the law" and Garner should have just complied because there was no way the cops could know he had asthma and breathing issues. But, this was a relatively minor crime, and the simple fact is that once the cops deem it necessary to put their hands on a suspect, they become responsible to what happens to that guy. From what I can tell, he was not compliant, but he was hardly violently fighting either.

 

I dunno, are the cops completely wrong? No, because when you are told to comply by a cop, you should. But clearly something went wrong when they were attempting to subdue Garner, and as a consequence, he died. To me, it's not a race thing in this case, but it definitely can be said that the cops either did not follow policy or procedure, and that negligence, in my opinion, contributed directly to Garner's death. I don't think they intended to kill Garner, but they should have had to face some consequences, be it legally, or at the very least, fired from their jobs.

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