“I Can’t Breathe!”


Kayla Carden

Garner’s last words resonate in turbulent times.

Kai Cinan, Writer

“I can’t breathe!”

On July 17,2014, Eric Garner died laying facedown after a NYPD officer put him in what many view as a chokehold for about 19 seconds, and the event was captured on video.

At first Garner resisted arrest. This lead to another officer Daniel Pataleo, who was also on the scene, to put his arms around much taller Garner’s neck, attempting to pull him down onto the ground. As shown in the recording of the event, after Pataleo removed his arm from around Garner’s neck, four officers restrained Garner. While being restrained, Garner was said to have repeated the phrase “I can’t breathe” 11 times while lying face down on the concrete sidewalk.

The officers on the scene argue that before Garner passed out there was no obvious evidence that he was in serious condition. Since they assumed that Garner was speaking, he was also able to breathe.

Medical examiners concluded that Garner was killed by neck compressions, although they did not find any damage to his windpipes or his neck.  After further investigations the medical examiner declared his death a homicide.  Officers Damico and Pantaleo were placed on desk duty, and Pantaleo was stripped of his service gun and badge. On December 3, 2014 a grand jury decided not to indict officer Pantaleo.

This event has stirred up numerous rallies and protests including charges of police brutality and has been broadcasted nationally through media networks. Most of these protests include the phrase: “I can’t breathe.”

This phrase has become the rallying cry for all protesters world wide. The phrase has even been publically supported by numerous African American celebrity figures including Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, Reggie Bush, and even Jay-Z.

In a country already sensitive to police violence against African American males because of the Ferguson events, some people in Huntsville-Madison area have blocked roadways as a means of peaceful protest and to keep the issue on the news.  The #ShutItDownHsv initiative was met with mixed opinion.

“If it’s in the news, then people will talk about it and try to reach a solution.  If it’s not, people will forget about it,” said Mrs. Panagos, a publications teacher at Bob Jones.  “As a society, we forget things easily, and we are rarely affected when it doesn’t directly involve us or our own children.”

“Our mothers are on high alert,” said student Sean Brunner.  “They just want us to be aware when we’re driving and out.”  Though he has never been nervous around the Madison Police, he admitted he understood why some might be.

With celebrities and college athletes donning the “ICan’tBreathe” shirts, we wonder if any Bob Jones students will embrace the cause.