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Spike Lee responds to NYC police brutality. Again and again.

“I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe… I can’t breath…” Eric Garner said that nine times as a half dozen New York City police officers threw him to the ground last Thursday, June 17, and one cop strangled him in a chokehold. Garner pleaded with police to ease up, but those words would be his last. The 43-year-old father of six went into cardiac arrest and died soon after. His friend Ramsey Orta stood by helplessly, unable to do anything but record the brutality with his phone — a tragic replay of Oscar Grant’s murder by a transit cop in San Francisco in 2008. Hundreds of headlines have been written about Eric Garner’s death this week, but words fail.

In lieu of more words, Spike Lee has responded on film, mixing the video of Eric Garner senseless killing with a scene in Do the Right Things when Radio Raheem was strangled in a similar circumstances. Do the Right Thing was fiction, but in fact that scene in Lee’s 1989 movie was based on the real-life case of Michael Stewart, a 135-lb New York graffiti artist who was pummeled into a coma in 1983 by six NYC police officers. Michael Stewart died of strangulation. The cop who murdered Oscar Grant walks free. The six NYPD cops indicted for killing Michael Stewart were also acquitted.

Ryan Coogler and Spike Lee make films that speak out against brutality, and they’re shunned for being too radical, too angry. When police beat black men to death, black filmmakers stand up and look their killers in the eye. But when black directors make movies that point a finger at murderers on the police force, all the Oscars do is look in the other direction.

8 Comments on this Post

  1. Eric P.

    I live on Staten Island (Where this took place), and I work right across the street. I watched this happened outside of my office window. The first thing I thought of was “Do the Right Thing”. THe mood on the Island is very tense right now, lots of people are very VERY upset over the way things went down

  2. I thought of Do the Right Thing too. I want to throw up…sorry you had to see that, Eric.

  3. Richard B

    Disgusting and it’ll happen again, but we live in “postracial society” so it’s not a problem.

  4. Vincent

    To complain that more black directors don’t get Oscar attention trivializes the situation. Do you think Oscar Grant or Garner’s families give a shit that the Oscars didn’t come knocking over the films that dramatize what happens in real life?

    I know this site is very pointed and to say thinly veiled is an understatement, but damn!

  5. I really hope that the new police commissioner and Mayor DiBlasio get this right. So far not looking good. Shouldn’t the guy who did the chokehold be behind bars. I mean I know him being a cop gives him immunity, but he assaulted an unarmed man, who later died. Even if Mr. Garner hadn’t died the officer should be behind bars for assault. Not behind a fucking desk.

  6. Should have written Mayor de Blasio. Wish there was an edit option for the comments. I had trouble with a post before cause I couldn’t edit it. I would have changed the wording on my poorly written post, perhaps avoiding the tongue lashing I received. :)

    Enjoyed the recent podcast and the site. Please consider the edit option if possible. Of course maybe it’s already available and I am a ditz and missed it.

  7. Bob Burns

    Imagine if the races were reversed.

  8. Alboone

    Fuckin bullshit, these racist cops have no idea the damage they’re doing to society at large, is thus the new normal?. The cop who initiated the choke hold had 8 charges filed against him for use of excessive force, all black men. What is this world coming too!!!!!!

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