Mumia: I Can’t Breathe, Part 2

George Floyd and Eric Garner


(Audio available here.)

The furious struggle for justice for the late Eric Garner took years – long, hard years by his family and friends – before a bare pittance was granted in the belated decision to dismiss the cop who choked him to death. Uncharged, I might add. The name Eric Garner has become a catch word for the state of black America for decades, if not centuries, who can barely breathe free air.

The phone cam recording of the police killing of George Floyd in the street.of Minneapolis, Minnesota, by a beefy cop putting his knee on the neck of Floyd provides an eerie echo of Garner’s words from at least five years before. I can’t breathe. Floyd, his breath cut off, cries for the person who gave him life: his mama. Within minutes, Floyd is gone.

Eric Garner was approached by a police squad after a merchant complained that he was selling loosies, or single cigarettes. Floyd was approached by several cops. After a merchant claimed he passed a forged $20 bill. Think about that. Two men, two fathers, choked to death because of merchant complaints about loose cigarettes and the fake $20 bill, allegedly. This is a statement about how, in a capitalist society, merchandise is more important than black life. George Floyd joined the collective he never wanted to join and perhaps never expected to join. It is the roll call of the dead caused by the state and a system of repression that is all-pervasive.

Does black life matter?

Not yet.

This commentary was originally published at and recorded by Noelle Hanrahan.

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