American Nightmare: the Criminal, Justice System

Photo by Democracy Now | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Democracy Now | CC BY 2.0

Several days ago a story appeared in Al Jazeera about Ramsey Orta the courageous citizen Samaritan who video recorded the final minutes of Eric Garner’s life taken by New York City police officers in July of 2014. Mr. Garner, an asthmatic, held in a deadly choke hold and unable to breathe, repeatedly yelled out for help; his desperate pleas eventually ending as his last breath of life was stolen, by cops, from his limp body. His crime… being a black man on the streets of New York City, or Chicago, or Ferguson or Tulsa or any other of a hundred cities that dot the United States from coast to coast.

The Al Jazeera story itself dealt largely with Mr. Orta who is on his way to prison having pleaded guilty to a number of criminal charges that arose after he had recorded the Garner killing. Not surprisingly, the arrests followed the onset of a pattern of police harassment that targeted him beginning soon after his explosive recording went public.

Though the article itself was relatively short, it was powerful and, not surprisingly, generated a lot of feedback. What was, however, unexpected was the significant number of reader observations that were far less concerned about the underlying events that took the life of Mr. Garner and their implications, than they were critical, indeed abusive, of Mr. Orta … who in the view of many was just another “criminal” of color going to prison.

It would be far too easy to simply write off the…

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