4.0 Chapter 4: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
The following section of the research report presents case studies of select cases of police brutality in chronological order recorded between 2011 and 2016. The analysis of each case presents ramifications for the media’s portrayal of African Americans as reminiscent of the circumstances revolving around each case as presented. The data collected using methods discussed in Chapter 3 yielded results that are subsequently presented.
4.2 The Case of Erick Garner (July 17th, 2014: Staten Island, New York City, New York)
The case of Eric Garner was not far differentiated from that of Michael Brown, both men were unarmed and had huge bodies or were heavily built a fact that made them look aggressive and strong. However, unlike Brown who was noted to have resisted arrest, Garner did not resist during the whole time he was being tackled by police officer Daniel Pantaleo on the sidewalk on a chokehold he kept repeating that he could not breath. Garner aged 43 was allegedly selling cigarettes that were not taxed when he was confronted by the police officers on patrol. Soon after, officer Pantaleo put him on a chokehold that eventually killed him after 15 seconds. Following Garner’s death, peaceful protests sparked all around the country with the popular slogan “I Can’t Breathe.” Officer Pantaleo was not charged for killing Erick Garner (The Guardian, 2014).
4.2.2 Traditional Media
22.214.171.124 The Guardian
Fig 9: The headline on the online publication of ‘The Guardian’ over a video recording of Eric Garners being choked by officer Pantaleo (The Guardian, 2014).
The image depicted of Eric Garner in the video that speaks for itself shows a defenseless man who is claiming police harassment. As such, the video is accompanied by a back ground voice of a witness holding the camera reciting how the police were harassing the individual who repeatedly claimed that he was minding his business. Further, the police officers commenced to apprehend the suspect by detaining him forcefully although he did not show any signs of resisting arrest. It is arguable, however, that Garner resisted by telling the officers not to touch him. Notwithstanding, the chokehold that proved fatal was uncalled for since, in the video, Garner repeatedly says out loud that he could not breathe.
126.96.36.199 The Independent Global News
Fig 10: Except from the Independent Global News showing video of Erick Garner Choking and calling for help to no avail (IGN, 2014).
The IGN report took a remorseful stance when it chose to evaluate the conduct of the police officers as pertains to manner in which they treated distressed Erick Garner even after restraining him. Erick Garner who was visibly having trouble breathing while on the ground was left struggling as officers stood by. In the distance, officer Pantaleo could be seen just minding his business chatting with a fellow officer as Garner fought to stay alive and failed while on the ground.
188.8.131.52 Daily News
Fig 11: Daily News’ Angle on the Erick Garner Death Outcome (Marzulli, Parascandola, & Tracy, 2014).
Although the Daily News article victimized Garner as a casualty in the executive orders issued by police chief on a crackdown on the sale of illegal cigarettes, the article seemingly blames Garner for being on the wrong side of the law. As such, Framing Theory applies in this situation where the story was tailor made to make it look as if Garner had been selling the illegal cigarettes banned by the authorities. Consequently, the image of a criminal African-American casualty of police violent arrest remains the core message of the article.
Fig 12: An Excerpt from MSNBC’s report on Eric Garner’s death (Dianis, 2014).
The case presented by MSNBC was that Eric Garner was calling for help as he was strangled by a police officer. A quote from the article reads “Garner wanted to know why he was being harassed, and he paid for that query with his life” (Dianis, 2014). The article continues to add that police brutality in the United States should be a matter of concern especially the gravity of the aggression that the police advance towards African-Americans.
184.108.40.206 New York Times
Fig 13: Excerpt from New York Times Reporting on Developments on the Garner Killing Revelations (Goodman, 2014).
This article in many respects is two faced where on the one hand, the message can be interpreted as associating the neighborhood and the man who filmed Garner as crime associated. On the other hand, the article also details various instances of police harassment of witnesses where another teenager aged 17 among other witnesses were arrested on unsubstantiated charges. When associated to Garner, however, the article to a greater degree paints an image of a Garner who was criminally linked as if attempting to justify his choking by police officers.
4.2.3 New Media
Fig 14: Excerpts from Facebook showing reactions and debate about Eric Garner’s murder by police (Facebook, 2015).
The chokehold that killed Eric Garner brought about remorse and outrage in equal measure on social media platform Facebook. As such, much of the posts presented above seem to seek justice for Eric Garner and tend to expose the police brutality and racism that is characteristic of the criminal justice system. What is more, the Facebook posts allude to videos and incidences that are associated or related to police use of force when apprehending suspects often leading to fatalities where the suspects are victims.
Fig 15: Excerpt from Eric Garner’s Grand Jury Decision discussed by Comedy Central’s John Stewart (Comedy Central, 2014).
The YouTube clip elicited many reactions that were presented in the comments sections majority of which mentioned Eric Garner as the victim and the injustice that is characteristic of the United States Jury system of deciding on cases. As such, the decision outraged commentators as much as it did the host of comedy central that day. The comments that accompany the clip show how outraged and astonished the audiences were in amazement at the racist decision of the grand jury’s failure to indict the police officer.
Fig 16: President Obama’s reaction to Eric Garner’s killer lack of indictment (PBS NewsHour, 2014).
Though the comments section accompanying the YouTube video were disabled, it is clear from watching the YouTube video pointed to Eric Garner as the victim. It is equally visibly vivid that President Obama was remorseful and regretful of the ruling as he felt that justice was not served. Consequently, the president continues to present his message pertaining to the importance of his Administration working alongside other interested parties towards ensuring equal rights and treatment of all citizens under the law. The President reiterated the police brutality issue being an American issue and not merely a Black American race issue.
Fig 17: Excerpts from Twitter showing reactions from various individual’s about Eric Garner (Twitter, 2015).
Twitter posts and discussions present a wide scope of variations between individuals’ opinions as pertains to Garner’s death. However, indications are such that many of the posts align with the individuals terming the killing an injustice given that Garner posed no significant threat to the police officers, moreover, the outrage at the fact that justice was denied in the same case is evident. However, a few tweets such as Donald Trump’s above prove controversial since it is neither concerned about Garner or justice rather used as a blow at President Obama’s regime. As such, the issue of Eric Garner as used by Trump is solely meant for gaining political mileage.
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