Citizens Are Right To Protest Needless Deaths

By / Letters to the Editor / Wednesday, 14 January 2015 05:00

To the Editor:
Charlie Allo’s “For Your Consideration: Free Speech and Protesting” column of December 17th deserves comment.  The column objects to protests resulting from two recent deaths caused by police.  Video recordings of both events are readily available on-line.  12-year-old Tamir Rice was playing in a Cleveland park with a toy gun that shoots plastic pellets.  Police responding to a 911 call, shot him.  Surveillance video shows that the police drove into grass 30 feet from the street, right up to Tamir, and stopped abruptly.  Less than two seconds after the car stopped, Tamir was on the ground with a bullet in his stomach.  Police say that the officers told Tamir to raise his hands, but the video shows that the time from arrival to shooting was too short for that.  Mr. Allo asks us to understand that “the officer’s life may have been in danger.”  
The police could have stopped their car further from this frightening child and approached cautiously.  They could have given Tamir immediate medical aid.  They did neither.
Eric Garner objected to being arrested for selling individual cigarettes in Staten Island.  Watch the video and you’ll see that “resisted being removed from the site” is a serious overstatement.  One policeman went behind Eric, put his arm around his neck and pulled him down.  Four officers held him down on his stomach; at least one was on top of him.  A fifth officer pushed Eric’s head down, so that his ear was flat on the sidewalk.  Eric said, “I can’t breathe” multiple times.  He later died and the medical examiner ruled it a homicide.  Mr. Allo writes, “the amount of force that had to be applied contributed to the man’s death.”  How does Mr. Allo know how much force was actually required?  Eric did not threaten or strike the police.  With patience, the police might have avoided the use of any force.
Mr. Allo seems to assume that police are right to use as much force as they choose anytime they choose to.  I disagree.  Citizens are right to protest these needless deaths vociferously.
Jeffrey Tarvin
Carolina Beach, NC

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