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Eric Garner, a 43-year-old man, a resident of Staten Island, the father of six children, who suffered from asthma, died of suffocation on the street after one of the five police officers, involved in his arrest, did a chokehold on him. This accident can be called as a manifestation of police brutality. The study of this incident shows more and more various disputes and discussions about the causes and consequences of this incident. Moreover, Eric Garner’s death caused a great resonance in American society. It became the reason for numerous demonstrations and strikes.
The reason for this is a set of social, socio-psychological, political, demographic, and ideological phenomena that directly spawned crime as its consequence. In addition to the causes of crime, one should call the terms of it. The terms of crime are such phenomena and processes, which in themselves do not give rise to crime, but accompanying the causes and influencing them, they provide their action that leads to certain consequences, namely the set of acts that violate the rules and the law. Different researches of the crime causes help to reveal its nature, to determine obvious facts that contribute to the existence of crime, to help to identify the factors that counteract these processes.
There are many factors that can be the reason for this crime, for example, social class, gender, ethnicity, and race of the victim. In the American view of things, the class struggle and the general concept of social classes occupy a special place. There is a known view that Americans are divided into two classes - the rich and those who want to become rich. Quite popular is the view that the phrase "I am white and free" means that the White man can do whatever he wants, and has no borders. As it is known, Eric Garner was an Afro-American man, and this fact can be called as the main reason for his death. Racism in the United States has existed since the founding of the state. The society, founded by White people, differs in its national and religious grounds, and their attitude towards other groups has been very different as well. The victims of racism always have been non-white indigenous people, especially black-skinned Afro-Americans.
Moreover, to date, racial issues in the United States have experienced a new rebirth and acquired a very specific form. If some time ago the word "racism" in the United States was understood mainly as an engrafted psychological dogma of the superiority of the white race over the black race, today, this definition has undergone significant changes. Today, some kinds of revenge from African Americans are common; moreover, many of them try to ‘render’ by the fact that for decades, their ‘inferiority’ in the United States has been one of the major social and political principles. More to say, this is not only due to the fact that for the first time in the history of the country there is a dark-skinned president. It is connected with the fact that the number of African Americans in many US cities became, if not overwhelming, but very impressive. This situation began to produce a burst of activity among different ultranationalist organizations of the United States, the main slogan of which is ‘rid the country of the black people’. The police officer, who killed Eric Garner, was also a white-skinned person; that is why there is a reason to think that there was some manifestation of racial brutality.
White people commit the most serious crimes in the United States. However, all sins are condemned by most blacks. The basis of this statement, consisting mostly of subconscious racial prejudice, is the most stable and corroding American society racial stereotype: "Blacks - are criminals". David Levering (1994) summarizes it: "White commit crimes, but offenders still considered black" (p. 125). Despite the fact that the white-skinned people can actually commit many small and serious crimes, condemnation of their crimes never has racial overtones. Nevertheless, when Blacks violate the law, then everyone who belongs to this race is suspected by law enforcement.
There is no reason to speak about the gender question in this situation. This question could be actual if there was a woman in the situation and her weakness, defenselessness, and unstable psychological system had led to her death. Therefore, one should not speak about gender question, because both the victim and the offender were men. However, it is necessary to mention the physiological features of both men. As it is known, the victim, Eric Garner, was a rather big and heavy man, while the offender, Daniel Pantaleo, is a man of small stature. It was necessary for the offender to choose correctly the type of crime because there were obvious differences in the physique of both men. It can be also assumed that Daniel Pantaleo knew about the disease of the victim and that is why it was not difficult for him to choose the type of assault.
Social class can be also the weighty reason for such police brutality. It is known that the White population of the United States is sure that Blacks are lazy, stupid, and they can only organize themselves in gangs to kill each other and bystanders who wander into their neighborhoods. It can be assumed that such thoughts were endorsed by Daniel Pantaleo, and being the man of the certain working social class of White people, he tried to express his views in such a cruel way. It is necessary to mention that the selling of cigarettes can be another reason for Daniel Pantaleo’s offense. Maybe such an activity seems too abject for him. Nowadays, the social question is of great importance in the relations between white Americans and black Americans.
Victim’s experiences might vary in the course of criminal proceedings. There can be many factors that can make the victim acquitted. Racial and ethnic questions are not the fact for the judge to acquit the offender. The main factor in favor of Eric Garner could be the protection of individuals from illegal and unwarranted restrictions of rights and freedoms. It is also necessary to mention that all kinds of violence (in this situation it is suffocation) are illegal for police workers. That is why it can be said that probably the court would have punished Daniel Pantaleo.
Likely there were no special relationships between the victim and offender, only the situation which leads to such effects. However, it can be assumed that the behavior of the victim could be thoughtlessly careless and could have caused the incident. By establishing the identity of the victim, as well as the behavior of the victim before the murder, and during it, the investigator can accurately determine the motive and purpose of the offense. The location of the crime tells about the fact that Eric Garner and Daniel Pantaleo did not know each other because it was the usual working process of Daniel Pantaleo. Another thing would be if this incident had happened at home, so this could be the fact of kinship or friendship relations between them.
As against the object, initiating victimization and also against the victim the study of the causal chain leads far beyond the particular situation. This involves the assessment of the amount of the circumstances that influenced not only the formation of a sacrificial behavior but in general, the formation of a vulnerable person with a deformed personality profile. One could mention different factors, such as psychological, social and emotional effects. Social factors associated with victimization by external influences - with the internal changes in the person that occurred under the influence of unfavorable factors of education and socialization. Formed and entrenched, these internal changes (personality traits, character traits, habits, etc.) become prerequisites for the development of new victimogenic factors. That could be racial pressure, which can cause long term insecurity. Eric Garner’s disease can be called a long-term psychological factor that, in fact, led to rapid death. Emotional effects are the shortest term effects because they are the consequences of situations that happened in the moment of the situation. All these effects have a great influence on the victim and his situation during the process of victimization.
The media portrayed Eric Garner as a real victim. In many, one could find the facts about a poor sick Afro-American man who tried to earn some money to feed a large family. Moore (as cited in Dreher, 2014) mentioned, “…a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice…” Police brutality is another widely discussed question according to this topic. However, there are also some sources that blame Eric Garner. They say that his actions were illegal. It is known that mass media has a great impact on every person, that is why it can cause positive and negative impacts. It is the choice of every person what to believe in and what conclusions to do.
To make a conclusion, it is necessary to mention that a great cause of Eric Garner’s death can be the racial, social, and ethical facts. The victim and the offender of this offense are the people from different social and racial groups. However, in any way, the law should regulate aggression towards a particular class of people.
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