By Grant Marcus
I’ve visited many places in America in
my lifetime, but there has never been any-
thing like New York New York. Broadway,
jazz shows, 24 hours of Bethoven at St.
Peters Cathedral, Marcel Marceau–and
a man running with a wicker chair over his
head at 3 in the morning he had bought
from a store in a city that never sleeps…
They are vivid memories that have always
stayed with me.
But those memories were shattered
with the illegal chokehold killing of Eric
Garner. The fond memories I had of
New York were suddenly replaced by
the harsher realities of racism.
The cell video of the homicide was
disgusting, as police and paramedics
did nothing to save Garner’s life, as he
lay dying on the gurney. New York
could have easily have been Selma,
as Garner’s life didn’t seem to matter.
And to add insult to murder, the man
taking the video of the crime was ar-
But what was even more deplorable,
if not harmful was the police response
to an empathetic mayor. White cops
turning their backs, the taunting “I can
breathe” t-shirts, and a man named
aptly, “Lynch,” representing the police
union with his plethora of insensitive
These reactions all seemed childish
tantrums by an authority refusing to ac-
cept accountability, and which is sup-
posed to lead by example. Instead,
the police have targeted race and color
and blemished their own characters.
They have placed loyalty above integ-
rity or morality, and they have respond-
ed to the community by violence, ig-
norance, privilege, defiance, and big-
otry. The actions of the police and the
New York justice system make it
clear justice in New York is synony-
mous with inequality.
This was shocking for me. New
York New York was the home of
Jackie Robinson, and the city which
ended racism in baseball. However
racism obviously remains in the city
itself, and with the very people who
enforce its laws.
It takes courage to admit one’s mis-
takes, and cowardice to ignore them.
One can only hope the NYPD takes
the courage to own their responsibil-
ity in this injustice. And in doing so,
realizes they must change their meth-
ods of law enforcement, particularly
profiling, while also ending their su-
perior, and irrationally punitive atti-
tudes toward their community.
No one should be above the law.
No police officer should be able to
commit high crimes simply because
there is nepotism within the justice
system. If law enforcement wants
the true respect of its citizenry, its
members should be willing to follow
the same laws we must all follow.
If they do not, they must be willing
to accept criminal prosecution. The
rule of law becomes ruthless hypo-
crisy when the people who enforce
it ignore it, abuse it, and are above
The man from out-of-state who
killed the two officers received jus-
tice. The families of the officers re-
ceived due respect of the City of
New York. I hope someday that
those who participated in Garner’s
murder receive justice as well, and
the Garner family be given their due
respect. This is called equality.
Over 50 years ago, the Reverund
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We
can never be satisfied as long as the
Negro is the victim of the unspeaka-
ble horrors of police brutality.” If Rev.
King were alive today, I believe he
would make similar commentary a-
bout the recent rash of killings across
our country of innocent African Am-
ericans, including Garner.
I hope the New York community
does not forget Eric Garner, and in-
sists on fairness, justice, and pro-
gress. So long as one American is
Eric Garner, we all are Eric Garner.
It is the responsibility of all of us to
seek his justice and insist all lives
matter. As I remember New York,
New York, this city is too great not to
do what is right.
Grant Marcus, RN, ME