Things That Matter

An NYPD Officer Is Seen Choking A Black Man Just Days After Officials Banned The Use Of Chokeholds

Even though police brutality and the way officers systemically abuse Black Americans is finally gaining mainstream attention, officers continue to put Black lives at risk.

As the country struggles to figure out ways to move forward when it comes to addressing policing of Black communities – attacks on those communities continue. Over the weekend, a Black man in New York was attacked by an NYPD officer in what the police commissioner is calling an “apparent chokehold” – even though chokeholds have long been banned by the department.

A viral video shows an NYPD officer using a chokehold on a Black man as people shout at him to stop.

An NYPD officer has been suspended without pay after a video of him allegedly attacking a man in what the police commissioner has called an “apparent chokehold.”

A video shot by one of the man’s friends – who he was hanging out with – showed a group of NYPD officers tackling a black man, with one of them putting his arm around his neck as he lay face-down on the boardwalk. Several bystanders start to yell, “Stop choking him, bro!” But only after another officer tugs at the cop’s shirt – a move that has received praise from officials for some reason.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the man who was attacked by police suffered any serious injuries – but he was able to get up on his own after the cop got off of him.

The officer, who was identified by the New York Daily News and other local media outlets as David Afanador, was one of several seen in the video attempting to detain 35-year-old Ricky Bellevue, who has a history of mental illness, according to family members.

It’s still not exactly clear what provoked the officer to attack the man.

Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Although the NYPD has already released body camera footage that shows at least 11 minutes of the interaction, it’s not exactly clear what happened between officers and Bellevue. In the police body cam video, you can see three men pacing back and forth and they are – at times – shouting at the officers. But at one point, the officers rushed the Black man and the ensuing struggle lasts for about 30 seconds.

In the aftermath, one officer’s body camera video captured him explaining the situation to a woman who turned up at the scene and said she was a relative of the man who had been handcuffed, and that he was mentally ill.

“They were all talking all types of crazy stuff to us and we did nothing,” he said. “What changed everything is when he grabbed something and squared up and was going to hit my officer.”

Some officials have spoken out in praise of officers who ‘intervened’ to stop the chokehold.

Even though the police who intervened was just doing what he should be doing, officials are praising him for his actions.

“The officer who intervened to stop his colleague did exactly the right thing,” Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday night. “I commend him. That is what we need to see from all our officers.”

The Police Commissioner, Dermot Shea, said in a statement that “a full investigation is still underway, but there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary.”

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor De Blasio tweeted: “This is the fastest I have ever seen the NYPD act to discipline an officer….This is how it needs to be.”

Although chokeholds have long been banned by the NYPD, they’re still commonly used.

Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Although the NYPD has long had an official policy against chokeholds, they’ve still been commonly used. Their use has been especially controversial in the wake of the 2014 death of Eric Gardner, after an officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.

Meanwhile, at the city and state level – officials are trying to implement legal consequences for officers who continue to use chokeholds. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a sweeping package of police accountability measures including a ban on chokeholds following protests over George Floyd’s killing.

The New York City Council just passed a law last week making it a criminal misdemeanor for an officer to use a chokehold during an arrest, regardless of the level of injury that chokehold may have inflicted. And a new state law named for Eric Garner, deemed the technique a felony offense if the officer gravely injured or killed a person in the course of using it. While chokeholds have long been banned in the city, the new measures add layers of potential punishment for rule-breaking cops. 

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A Native American Veteran Shared a Video of Himself Being Tased By a Park Ranger on Sacred Grounds in New Mexico

Things That Matter

A Native American Veteran Shared a Video of Himself Being Tased By a Park Ranger on Sacred Grounds in New Mexico

Screenshot via hou5edm/Instagram

Recently, a video went viral of a New Mexico park ranger tasing a Native American man that sparked a conversation about the right non-Indigenous government authorities have to exert over Indigenous Americans.

Last Sunday, a Native American man named Darrell House shared a video of himself screaming in agony and calling for help as a park ranger tased him.

In the four-minute long clip posted to Instagram, House screams for help and writhes in agony on the ground as the unnamed park ranger continuously uses his taser on him. The woman recording the altercation repeatedly yells “What are you doing?” at the ranger while the ranger continues to demand that House show him his ID.

House, who grew up on a reservation and is of Navajo and Oneida descent, wrote a lengthy caption describing in detail what had transpired.

House wrote: “Today 12/27/2020, I was tased for being off trail at the Petroglyphs. I come here to pray and speak to my Pueblo Ancestor relatives. Even though I’m Navajo and Oneida, I honor this land.”

“Here, you will see a white man abuse his power. Both men pulled tasers on me after the first 1 couldn’t keep me down. This could have been a civil interaction. The law doesn’t work for the Indigenous. The government doesn’t give a shit about us. This was uncalled for. You see I’m clearly on the trail. I explained my reason for being off trail (which I shouldn’t have to. If anyone has the right to be off trail and wander this land, it’s the NATIVE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY!”

“I didn’t feel I needed to identify myself for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
I’m traumatized. My left leg is numb and still bleeding. [My dog] Geronimo is shaking and hasn’t stopped. I’m shaking.”

Darrell House, who is also a military veteran, added: “I’m good people, the Marines I served with would agree. The many people I’ve crossed paths with–you know me.”

In response to the public outcry, the National Park Service said they were “investigating” the incident.

The National Park Service says that House was cited for walking off-trail at Petroglyph National Monument. House does not deny the claim, but says that walking where he wants to on sacred indigenous grounds is an ancestral right.

“Nature is what we’ve been worshipping … and protecting it has always been our job,” he told NBC News. “I am Native, you know. I have rights to this land. I have rights off the trail.”

House also doesn’t deny refusing to identify himself to the park ranger. “I didn’t see a reason to give my identification,” he said. “I don’t need to tell people why I’m coming there to pray and give things in honor to the land. I don’t need permission or consent.”

The local Albuquerque government has since become involved, releasing a statement that said the incident had been “elevated to the Federal investigation level”.

City Councilor Cynthia Borrego wrote that the incident was “troubling” and “uncomfortable” to watch and that her officer “recognizes and supports the investigation into any indigenous rights that may have been violated as a result of the actions taken in this unfortunate incident.”

The statement concluded by reiterating that Native Americans have the right “to practice their cultural beliefs as protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

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The Father And Son Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery Don’t Want Him To Be Called A “Victim” In Upcoming Court Case

Things That Matter

The Father And Son Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery Don’t Want Him To Be Called A “Victim” In Upcoming Court Case

Sean Rayford / Getty Images

The men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery have some outrageous requests for their upcoming murder trial that really show just how far many will go protect white supremacy.

Despite their being video evidence of them chasing and shooting Arbery, the father and son are requesting that Arbery never be referred to as a victim. What the actual f***?!

Arbery’s killers are asking a judge to prohibit referring to Arbery as a “victim.”

The men responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s death have a litany of requests for their upcoming murder trial – notably, they don’t want the word “victim” uttered in court while referring to the man they murdered.

Defense attorneys for Travis and Greg McMichael – the father and son who chased Arbery down with their truck and then proceeded to shoot and kill him in a struggle – have filed new motions in their trial. They want to prohibit the prosecution from ever referring to Arbery as a victim in front of the jury, because they say that’s a conclusion that can’t be reached before a verdict.

“The purpose of this motion is to prevent the prosecution from ignoring its duty to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were actually committed and that the McMichaels committed the crimes as charged,” states the four-page motion, signed by lawyers Franklin and Laura Hogue, Robert Rubin and Jason Sheffield.

According to the motion, the McMichaels argue no crime has been committed – remember, they’ve pled not guilty and argued self-defense. As a result, they say “loaded words” like “victim” might prejudice jurors against them from the jump.

But there’s more: his killers are asking the judge to only allow one photo of Arbery.

Their unbelievable antics don’t stop with the word “victim.” Defense attorneys are also requesting that only one “in life” photograph be permitted at trial to depict Arbery – and that the photo show him alone without any family members or friends. Not just that, but the defense asks that no family member of his be able to identify him in court, they want that done by an unrelated, third party witness, if necessary.

The reason: they argue too many photos of Arbery will create an ingrained bias in the jury’s collective mind, and paint him as a sympathetic character. They say they don’t want his family involved in ID’ing either because of possible emotional outbursts, which may also affect the jurors. So in other words, the McMichaels want this as sterile as possible.

One last thing: the McMichaels have asked that Black Lives Matter face masks not be permitted in court, that any jail calls they’ve made be stricken as usable evidence, but that Ahmaud’s criminal record be admissible. Again, what the actual f***?!

Arbery’s murder made headlines over the summer as he was chased and gunned down while out on a jog.

Credit: Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Arbery was killed on 23 February last year in Brunswick, Georgia, while out jogging. Prosecutors allege that Gregory McMichael, 64, a retired police detective, and his son Travis, 34, chased Arbery in their truck and initiated a confrontation that ended with Travis McMichael shooting Arbery dead.

Arbery’s killing sparked outrage in the local community and nationally, particularly after it was revealed that local law enforcement initially refused to arrest the suspects and a prosecutor, who later recused himself, wrote a memorandum explaining why he believed the killing was legally justified.

The McMichaels told detectives they believed Arbery, a trained electrician, was responsible for a string of burglaries in their neighbourhood, and merely wanted to ask him about them. They were arrested more than two months after the shooting, when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.

A judge has yet to weigh in, and a trial date isn’t set.

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