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11 Facts You Should Know About Eric Garner's Death

On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, a black man, was killed by a white NYPD officer. Here is the story behind his death.

11 Facts You Should Know About Eric Garner's Death

1. Eric Garner had been busted before for selling untaxed cigarettes.

In March 2014, 43-year-old Eric Garner was arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. The NYPD cracks down on low-level offenses like these because of "broken-window policing" — a strategy that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani started in which low-level offenses are given harsh penalties. Why?


According to Giuliani:

    "Murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes. But they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other.”

So untaxed cigarettes were also on the same spectrum as murder. A bit ironic given how much cigarettes negatively affect people's health, and yet none of the huge tobacco manufacturers are being pursued by the police.

Before you say, "But Eric was breaking the law!" keep this in mind. A pack of cigarettes. A pack of untaxed cigarettes. Let that image remain in your head.

2. The day he died, Garner was trying to break up a fight. When police arrived, the fight was over.

It happened on Staten Island. Two policemen spotted Garner successfully breaking up a fight between two other people.

In spite of this, the police didn't concern themselves much with the two people who were fighting. Instead, they focused on Garner.

3. The police again tried to arrest Eric for selling cigarettes.

Even though Garner had just stopped two people from assaulting each other, he was suddenly the culprit in the situation.

When the two policemen tried to arrest him, Garner's response was:

    “Every time you see me, you try to arrest me. I’m tired of it. It stops today.”

One of the policemen who tried to arrest Garner is Daniel Pantaleo.

4. Pantaleo placed Garner in a choke hold.

That image above? That's like the choke hold used on Eric. Pantaleo probably didn't know it, Eric was suffering from asthma.

5. Choke holds are banned by the NYPD.

Before you say, "But Pantaleo had the right to use force on a man who was breaking the law!" what he did was actually against the NYPD's rules as of 1993. By putting Garner in a choke hold, he was violating the rules he was bound to as a police officer. He did not have the authority to use that force.

A few days after Garner's death, Pantaleo was stripped of his badge and gun.

6. Garner died after the chokehold. His last words were, "I can't breathe."

His last words started trending on Twitter months later under the hashtag #ICantBreathe.

7. Four medics at the scene didn't give Garner CPR.

In a cellphone video, one of Garner's friends showed that neither the EMTs nor the policemen at the scene were giving him CPR, even though he was clearly unconscious.

This was after Garner's head hit the concrete, according to a friend, and blood was coming out of his mouth.

The four EMTs were suspended for two days without pay.

8. A medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide.

On Aug. 1, 2014, the NYC medical examiner linked Pantaleo's chokehold to Garner's death, as well as "prone positioning during physical restraint by police."

9. There was a video of Eric's death.

Out of respect, we're choosing not to include the video. This description from a Time article should be enough:

    Orta’s video shows what appears to be one officer pressing Garner’s face into the sidewalk as other officers attempt to subdue him. On the ground, Garner can be heard repeatedly saying "I can’t breathe."

How about the guy who filmed Garner's death, Ramsey Orta? Well...

10. A grand jury indicted the man who filmed Garner's death.

He wasn't indicted for filming the incident. But Orta was indicted on weapons charges about a month after he filmed Garner's death. According to the Huffington Post:

    Orta testified that the charges were falsely mounted by police in retaliation for his role in documenting Garner's death, but the grand jury rejected his contention, charging him with single felony counts of third-degree criminal weapon possession and criminal firearm possession.

And then, in a twist of fate...

11. A grand jury did not indict the police officer who killed Garner.

See the New York Times for the story.

So selling untaxed cigarettes ended up in a man dying and a policeman not facing charges. How can we call this justice?

10 out of 1,000 American police officers are accused of misconduct.

23.8% of those have been accused of excessive force.

68% of felony defendants in the general population are convicted.

However, only 33% of police accused of misconduct are convicted.

(All these facts are via FiveThirtyEight).

You can find out more about police abuse by checking out this ACLU action manual here. It might be from 1997, but you'd be surprised how relevant (sadly) it still is nearly 18 years later.

Prison Culture, which is a pretty epic blog, has some resources, too.

The Harvard Kennedy School also has some good readings collected by its center on media, politics, and public policy that you should totally check out if you have the time.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter, U.S. Department of State

It takes a lot to push a career diplomat to quit their job. A diplomat's specialty, after all, is diplomacy—managing relationships between people and governments, usually with negotiation and compromise.

So when the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, whose "diplomatic experience and demonstrated interagency leadership have been honed directing several of the United States government's largest overseas programs in some of the world's most challenging, high-threat environments," decides to resign effective immediately, it means something.

Daniel Foote, who was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July of this year, explained his decision to quit in a strongly-worded letter to Secretary of State Blinken. His resignation comes in the wake of a wave of Haitian migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border and widespread reports of harsh treatment and deportations.

"I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life," he wrote. "Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own."

Foote went on to describe the dire conditions in Haiti:

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