The bullet that claimed Michael Brown’s life wasn’t from a sub-machine gun. He wasn’t run over by a tank, disabled by a percussion grenade or levelled by an LRAD sonic blast. So far as anyone knows, Michael Brown was shot six times by a line police officer wielding standard issue weaponry — likely a .45 Glock, which, according to the manufacturer, “approximately 65% of police departments in America put…between them and the problem”.
Eric Garner was a problem. One month ago he was allegedly selling “loosies” on a Staten Island corner, when five police officers strolled over to put an end to it. With four struggling to apply cuffs, a fifth, Daniel Pantelo, slipped his forearm underneath Garner’s chin and locked wrists to the right side of Garner’s skull, a move MMA fighters call the “rear naked choke”. In the video, you hear him yell “I can’t breathe!” before losing consciousness and collapsing into a pile on the warm concrete. Two EMT’s stand in the foreground, unwilling or unable to move.
What kills a man like Eric Gardner, or Michael Brown? No military on earth should tolerate this kind of violence, nor should any one of us tolerate it from them. Yet it happens. Indeed, it happens so much and has been for so long that kids like Michael Brown grow up knowing how to surrender from the moment they enter high school. Meanwhile, a few hundred miles down I-44, grown men stalk burrito joints wearing capes of automatic weapons.
Maybe Rand Paul is right. Maybe police are scarier, more dangerous today. But it doesn’t take an army to kill.
Only a gun and a problem.