We are all Eric Garner

Death of Eric GarnerLike so many, I watched the video of Eric Garner’s death in New York over and over again. Like so many, it still haunts me.

On July 17 2014, Eric Garner‘s life was taken from him after an NYPD officer put him in a ‘chokehold’. Something, banned by the police department. Banned, because rightly this compression of the neck practice causes the death of people.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Ferguson, New York or indeed London, the relationship between the police and people of colour is at an all-time low. The worst, I’ve ever known in my life.

There is no trust within the back community towards the police, and equally no respect.

When young black men die at the hands of the police, it is tragic. When there are no answers or indeed justice for the families of those lost, this is beyond comprehensible. How would others feel, if there was no resolution to your grief after your son, brother or father had died in such circumstances?

The police represent the state, the state is there to represent you.

There is a debate going on throughout the world, with many putting the onus back on the black people.

Michael Brown should not have confronted the police, even though unarmed. Eric Garner should not have resisted arrest, even though he said he couldn’t breath. Mark Duggan should not have been involved with guns, even though when he was shot by the police he didn’t have one. The list, is endless.

I have a unique perspective of being able to see the point of view of both sides.

I was cop in two of Britain’s biggest police forces in London and Manchester for over a decade, and I am a black person of mixed heritage – my mum being white, and my dad black. I get things.

However, it would be disingenuous of me to not say that since I left the police service my eyes have been opened to a lot of issues and many of these are simply not right. I acknowledge that whilst I served from 2001 until 2012, I was institutionalised into how you have to think and act as an officer.

This, probably being the only regret of my life.

We live in a so-called democracy in which each life is meant to be equal, but they are not.

I think what stick in the throat of most about the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael brown et all, is that their deaths were not even allowed to be debated in a court of law. They were simply stopped, before getting there. The question has to be asked, how can people of colour have faith in a system that works against them and does not give them the answers to their questions so that they can move on?

I have heard the slogan No Justice, No Peace said throughout many cases, both in American and Britain. There is nothing I take as threatening from this, when I heard people of colour chant this. It is simply saying, how can one have peace if there is no justice? How can we say to Eric Garner’s family, have peace of mind, even though you will never get justice for his death or even answers at the least?

I read recently about a trip to America by London’s Police Commissioner, meeting up with the New York Police Commissioner. It struck me whilst their respective cities were ripping themselves apart over race, they appeared immune from what is happening in their own backyards.

For me, until the police start to respect black people I cannot see anything changing.

Whilst I was watching the Eric Garner and Michael Brown protests, it felt like I was watching America in the 1960s not the 21st Century. This, a sad indictment on society.

When will we really have true equal treatment, in the US, UK and elsewhere?


Take care, Max x.