- With the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the national spotlight has once again been placed on police shooting African-Americans.
On July 17, Eric Garner was approached by a plainclothes police officer, Justin Damico, in front of a beauty supply store in Staten Island. After telling the police officers, “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!” Garner raised both his arms in the air and was then put in a chokehold from behind by Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
While Garner repeatedly stated he was not able to breathe, other officers struggled to bring him down onto the sidewalk and have him put his arms behind his back. The video, recorded by Ramsey Orta, shows officer Pantaleo using his hands to push Garner’s face into the sidewalk. He died a few minutes later.
The video also showed that police waited seven minutes before giving Garner cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Use of the chokehold has been prohibited by New York City Police Department policy since 1993.
In the City of Newburgh, community organizers joined in with other communities across the nation last Saturday to peacefully protest and call for an end to the violence.
This was the second such event organized by Omari Shakur and Joe “Flo” Alvarez. Only a few weeks ago, on lower Broadway, people were invited to a huge block party to enjoy friends, food, music and talk to one another.
The duo then decided to organize and host a larger event in Downing Park titled “I’m so Newburgh” and the “Stop the Violence.” Shakur and Alvarez were joined in their organizing efforts by James (Anjel Sstar) Thorpe, DJ G Rock, Rasheda Worth and Jan Murchison.
Shakur, whose son was killed by police, recalled others, like Michael Lembhard and Nathaniel Cobbs who have been shot by City of Newburgh Police or died while in police custody. “Today is about bringing the community together,” Shakur said. “We want to stop the violence and stop the senseless killing of our young people.”
Sheila Murphy echoed Shakur’s comments. In 2008 her nephew was killed in Newburgh. “We have to stop the violence,” she said. Murphy, who also is heavily involved in the Center for Hope, said she wanted to give the young people an alternative to violence.
Veronica Jimenez and her daughter Jailene, who attended Saturday’s event, have lived in Newburgh for 20 years. “We are here today to support this community effort. We want to see a positive change, an end to the violence.”
Sierra Lewis, a lifelong resident of Newburgh and a recent college graduate, commented, “I’m so excited to be here supporting the community I grew up in. What a positive experience.”
The group of community organizers hopes to be able to continue to bring their positive message throughout the community and put a stop to the senseless violence.
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