McManus, a New York Post columnist whose oeuvre includes works of such intellectual nuance as "Rudy got it right: Cops save minority lives" and "Tantrum-throwing babies are in charge of New York, " took to the pages of the city's most esteemed subway-seat cover to explain that Garner and Michael Brown both had it coming.
Eric Garner and Michael Brown had much in common, not the least of which was this: On the last day of their lives, they made bad decisions. Epically bad decisions.
Each broke the law — petty offenses, to be sure, but sufficient to attract the attention of the police.
And then — tragically, stupidly, fatally, inexplicably — each fought the law.
The law won, of course, as it almost always does.
And then—tragically, stupidly, fatally, inexplicably—Bob McManus kept writing:
Eric Garner was a career petty criminal who'd experienced dozens of arrests, but had learned nothing from them. He was on the street July 17, selling untaxed cigarettes one at a time — which, as inconsequential as it seems, happens to be a crime.
Yet another arrest was under way when, suddenly, Garner balked. "This ends here," he shouted — as it turned out, tragically prophetic words — as he began struggling with the arresting officer.
Again, this was a bad decision. Garner suffered from a range of medical ailments — advanced diabetes, plus heart disease and asthma so severe that either malady might have killed him, it was said at the time.
Still, he fought — and at one point during the struggle, a cop wrapped his arm around Garner's neck.
Finally, there is this: There were 228,000 misdemeanor arrests in New York City in 2013, the last year for which there are audited figures, and every one of them had at least the potential to turn into an Eric Garner-like case.
So much for the "out of control" cop trope. So much for the notion that everyday citizens — or even criminals with the presence of mind to keep their hands to themselves — have something to fear from the NYPD.
Never mind 2013. Let's look at just the last two months of NYPD news: the cop who smashed a fare beater in the face with a nightstick, the cop who shot and killed unarmed Akai Gurley for the crime of walking in a stairwell with his girlfriend, the cop who kicked his fellow cop in the head because he thought he was a suspect, the cop who stole $1,000 cash from and pepper-sprayed Lamard Joye (on his birthday!), the cop who knocked a teen out cold for smoking a cigarette, the cop who pistol-whipped another teen who had his hands up to surrender—these cops were all perfectly in control.
In closing, McManus offers a pat explanation of Garner's death that also works a helpful meta-commentary on his own dumb op-ed:
He was a victim of himself. It's just that simple.
[Image via New York Post]