With protests from grand jury decision in Ferguson still going strong, another grand jury decided not to indict a Staten Island police officer who killed Eric Garner with a fatal choke hold. While the facts could be argued in the Michael Brown case, the events leading to Garner’s death were caught on video.
Garner’s case served to fuel the protests around the country and sparked new outrage on social media. The big question on so many people’s minds: How could the grand jury decide not to indict, when the police officer was clearly in the wrong?
"Oh I get it. They must not have shown the jury the video of the cop murdering #EricGarner. Wait, they did? I'm confused." -America
— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) December 3, 2014
Still, for many, the news that the police officer will not be indicted is not shocking and serve to reinforce the idea it is practically impossible to indict a cop, even with proof.
I'm ashamed. Mostly because I'm no longer shocked at things now-a-days. Nothing is shocking. #EricGarner
— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) December 3, 2014
As the video of Garner’s death began to circulate, #ICantBreathe become the refrain in national protests, and on social media.
Sadly, “I can’t breathe” were Garner’s last words as he was being choked to death.
In addition to the trending #ICantBreathe and #BlackLivesMatter hashtags on Twitter, a new theme emerged. Under the #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag, white Twitter users confessed their own crimes and exposed the leniency of the police action.
Exhaled blunt smoke in a cop's face as I opened my door and then told him he couldn't come in without a warrant. He left. #CrimingWhileWhite
— Classic (@classicmaterial) December 3, 2014
I was 20. Stopped by cop at gas station. Under the influence & underage. He flirted with me then let me drive home. #CrimingWhileWhite
— Cassie Fox (@CassieFX) December 3, 2014
#CrimingWhileWhite Arrested for stealing street signs xmas eve back in high school. Probation waived as it would interfere with DRAMA CLUB.
— Mike Levine (@bizmichael) December 3, 2014
Some were upset that #CrimingWhileWhite shifting the focus from #BlackLivesMatter:
— LEFT (@LeftSentThis) December 4, 2014
But others saw it as a powerful acknowledgement of white privilege and the racial disparity in law enforcement.
— jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) December 4, 2014
Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that a man is dead, survived by his wife and children, with no legal recourse against his killer.
Let this be the picture of Eric Garner that circulates tonight. pic.twitter.com/xUNqM5OgGg
— erin ashley (@ellhah) December 3, 2014