Communication Among Cultures
Over the past several months, many Americans across the country have united in a pursuit for justice. In this past year, two controversial incidents involving law enforcement and African American men transpired. The occurrences involved the deaths of two African American men and two police officers both of white ethnicity. The first event took place on July 17th 2014 in Staten Island, New York and involved the death of a man named Eric Garner. The second event, which received somewhat more focus and attention across the country, took place in Ferguson, Missouri and involved the death of an 18-year-old named Michael Brown. Both cases were brought in front of a grand jury and settled rather quickly, offering no indictments of the police officers involved. These present-day situations are culturally very significant. Thorough knowledge of the matter and an understanding of its importance, is what most of the America’s population lacks. It must be digressed further through additional analysis, requiring some research and an incorporation of various communication elements.
Eric Garner, who was described in transcripts as a “neighborhood peacemaker” and a ‘”generous, congenial person”, (Eugene Gerin, Eric Garner Case: The Score, ChronicleMagazine.org) was approached on July 17th 2014 by officers on the suspicion of selling “loosies”, which are single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. In the exchange, which was recorded on camera, Garner noted that he was frustrated with the police “harassing’ him on a daily basis. As the police officers moved in to take custody, Garner showed some signs of resisting but was not violent in his demeanor. An officer by the name of Daniel Pantaleo, took it to himself to put Eric Garner in a chokehold, a move prohibited by law enforcement. Upon being forced to the ground, Garner audibly pronounced his air deprivation before slipping into unconsciousness. The 43 year old, who had documented health problems such as asthma, heart disease, and obesity, was rushed to the hospital and later pronounced dead. Following trial, Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted on criminal charges. (Eric Garner & The Criminalization of Everyday Life, WashingtonExaminer.com)
The events that transpired on August 9 2014, in Ferguson Missouri, involved an 18-year-old named Michael Brown. An officer named Darren Wilson was patrolling the area when he drove by Brown who was accompanied by a friend. A convenience store about 10 minutes before this encounter, captured video of Brown stealing, physically assaulting and intimidating the stores employee. Darren Wilson upon realizing a matched description, called for backup, and ensued Brown, the suspect. A struggle with Brown reportedly took place from the window of his vehicle, resulting in two shots from Wilson’s firearm. The pursuit of Brown moved outside the vehicle and 6 more shots were fired, fatally wounding the 18 year old. Darren Wilson was not indicted on criminal charges for his actions. The court likely based their ruling around two previous cases regarding similar circumstances. (Larry Buchanon, What Happened in Ferguson, Nytimes.com) In Jones v. City of St. Louis, 92 F.Supp.2d 949 (E.D. Mo., 2000) a ruling was established that the use of deadly force is reasonable where the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or others. Another case, Fitzgerald v. Patrick, 927 F.2d 1037 (8th Cir., 1991) out of Missouri, established the fact that law enforcement officers are justified in using deadly force in self-defense or in defense of a third person if a reasonable person in similar circumstance would believe it was necessary.(Doug Wyllie, Why Officer Darren Wilson Wasn’t Arrested, Policeone.com) The deaths of these two men, as well as the