Home / General / Trenchant Commentary on Eric Garner’s Death

Trenchant Commentary on Eric Garner’s Death

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Richard Pryor on police killing black people with choke holds.

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  • John F

    Also never a fan of Cosby…

    • rhino

      Anyone who can listen to the ‘Noah’ sketch without laughing is dead inside.

      It appears Cosby was not a very good person, but he was one of the greatest comedians of the last fifty years and leaping frantically off bandwagons is bad form.

      • Brad Nailer

        “Hofstra” was one of the few things my family ever agreed on: we all fell down laughing. “One big tooth hanging out of his mouth . . .”

        • mikeSchilling

          “Revenge” is a classic too.

          “I hid the snowball in the freezer, and I waited.

          July ….”

          It is so awful that all of his stuff is tainted now.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        it occurs to me leaping dramatically *onto* bandwagons isn’t good form either

  • bobbo1

    I remember being blown away by that movie when it came out, but I’m too old now to remember what blew me away. I need to watch it again.

    • MAJeff

      I don’t remember if it’s In Concert or Live on the Sunset Strip, but Pryor does a bit on shooting up that is so viscerally uncomfortable…It’s a punch in the gut moment of pure brilliance.

  • Brian Adamson

    As I’m trying to catch up on the whole stream of Garner-related news stories, I came across this one in the Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/nypd-commissioner-bill-bratton-defends-de-blasio-article-1.2034559

    The topic of the story is what charges Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan asked the grand jury to bring against Office Pantaleo.

    But I’m interested in the story because the eyewitness who recorded the entire Garner homicide, a man named Ramsey Orta, claimed that the grand jury was rigged, and that they didn’t ask him any questions about the choking incident at the heart of the matter.

    Another witness, Ramsey Lee, who owned the beauty supply store in front of which the Garner choking incident happened, also claims that the grand jury didn’t ask him any meaningful questions.

    As I’m not a lawyer, I’m asking you all, how are grand juries like this pulled together? What exactly does the court do to empanel them? Are they selected from the same pool of citizens who are called to a trial jury?

    My understanding was that grand juries can ask any questions they want. If that’s so, how are they directed (or influenced) not to ask important questions of key witnesses in a case like this?

    Isn’t the fact that a grand jury can be so manipulated a significant (yet hardly commented-on) part of the outcome of this Garner issue, and the Ferguson case last week?

    • skate

      As I’m not a lawyer, I’m asking you all, how are grand juries like this pulled together? What exactly does the court do to empanel them? Are they selected from the same pool of citizens who are called to a trial jury?

      I think NY grand juries are supposed to be pulled from the same pool as regular jurors, but I have my doubts. I say that because every single time I have been called in for jury duty in Manhattan, it’s been for grand jury duty. That’s four times in 22 years. So is my name in a special pot?

      In New York County (i.e., Manhattan), the usual deal is that they need to sit four regular grand juries per month. Each GJ includes 23 people, which I have heard is also the case in Staten Island, but I don’t think is standard across the state. All that matters is that 12 jurors vote to indict.

      Each regular Manhattan GJ sits for a half day each working day for the entire month, either doing mornings or afternoons. The first two regular times I was called, they filled a courtroom full of well more than enough people to seat all four GJs and then they went through all the names asking of you were willing to serve mornings, afternoons or if you had a good reason for taking a pass that month. (Take a pass and they call you in again next month.) If you were smart you selected mornings, because many more people would do so and there might be 80 or 90 people who said mornings, meaning half would get out of it. Obviously that meant it was tougher to seat afternoon GJs.

      However, the court system seems to have wised up. The last time I got called in, just a couple years ago, the courtroom and pool were smaller and they were only selecting for afternoons. The kicker was that they had a long case that had to be heard that month, so they were selecting three afternoon GJs. My name was the second to last called and I ended up on the GJ with the special case.

      I was also called in once when they were trying to seat a special GJ for a union corruption case. For that one we were told it could be two half-days per week for up to six months. Obviously no one wanted to sit on that jury. When they didn’t get enough takers on the first go-round, they called in the judge and anyone who tried to take a pass had to explain to the judge why they couldn’t serve. Lucky for me one of my hearing aids had broken that week and saying “What?” and “Huh?” a lot got me out of there.

      My understanding was that grand juries can ask any questions they want. If that’s so, how are they directed (or influenced) not to ask important questions of key witnesses in a case like this?

      Yes you can pose your own questions but I think they subtly try to discourage that.

      For one thing, if you do want to ask a question, you hold up a hand. The ADA walks over and you tell them what the question is and then they do the asking. Or they say something like, “I have a later witness who will address that.”

      However, I had one co-worker who said he was on a GJ a decade or two ago and apparently his group did start wandering pretty far afield from what the DA or ADA had planned.

      So it can happen, but I think typically, the jurors are going to be like a flock of sheep, going where the (A)DA directs.

      Isn’t the fact that a grand jury can be so manipulated a significant (yet hardly commented-on) part of the outcome of this Garner issue, and the Ferguson case last week?

      IIRC, I saw an article saying the Ferguson DA dumped every bit of evidence he had on the GJ but didn’t try to point them toward any particular charge. This really struck me as sounding like he tried to overwhelm them with manure and minutia so that he could then say it wasn’t his fault that there was no indictment.

      In the Staten Island case, I wondered how clear it was made to the GJ that they could indict for lesser charges, and what those possible lesser charges might be. I mean the DA (and I would think that for a case like this it was the DA and not an ADA) might have requested an indictment for something harsh (homicide?) that the jury thought was obviously too much, but they didn’t know that they could indict for something that made more sense (manslaughter?).

      But yeah, if they have witnesses who said they never got asked about X, that makes me wonder.

      • cpinva

        “That’s four times in 22 years. So is my name in a special pot?”

        I’ve been called for regular jury duty 3 times in the past 10 years, in my city of roughly 25k people, and I thought that was statistically odd. yours beggars belief.

        • skate

          It being Manhattan, there’s an expectation one will get called relatively frequently, or at least pretty soon after you’re eligible again. There are a ton of cases filed in Manhattan, what with all the civil trials and a busy federal courthouse. The question is, why do I always get called for grand jury duty regular than anything else.

          After serving GJ duty, I supposedly free from any jury service for 8 years. I think back in the 1990s the grace period was shorter, but that was when the jury pool was smaller because there were more occupational exemptions.

          My dad once told me, about the time he turned 75, that he’d never been called for jury service in his life. I think my mom said she got called once for a civil case. That’s what happens when you live most of your life in Idaho.

  • Eric Garner’s last words transcribed.

    “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. […] I’m minding my business, officer. I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please. Please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me. [garbled] I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe”

  • Senator Cornball:

    “Why does the federal government feel like it is its responsibility and role to be the leader in an investigation in a local instance?”

    Glad the GOP supports states rights when it comes to a northern state’s “right” to tolerate police brutality. Talk about intellectual consistency.

    • cpinva

      I want to know if the photographer posed those two, or that was how they just sat naturally? they both look incredibly uncomfortable.

      truly, what do you expect out of any republican, especially one of ink blots from TX?

  • DrDick

    Pryor built much his career on telling whites uncomfortable truths in a way that they could swallow, but which still had a sharp edge.

    • cpinva

      as an incredibly pale white person, I learned a lot from mr. pryor, even having spent most of my life to this point living/going to school/working/playing with African americans. I was/am still a white boy. I appreciated the fact that he had the balls to say things that needed to be said, in spite of the fact that a lot of people, black & white, would have preferred he keep his mouth shut. I suspect he got a lot of grief from the black community, for “making waves”, waves that definitely needed to be made.

      • efgoldman

        I was/am still a white boy.

        I can’t imagine how you’d change that. I mean, spray-on melanin would make you look like Weeping Cheeto. I can’t imagine that’s a desired result.

  • tjkopena

    Probably don’t need to go much farther than the front page of LGM itself to see some insightful commentary on the larger culture behind these incidents:

    http://imgur.com/AgQI0wN

  • random

    I have it on good authority that I’m not allowed to point out that the police have been deliberately choking people to death on purpose. Even when it’s on camera.

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