By Steven W. Thrasher
It’s hard for black Americans to catch our breath these days: from Michael Brown to Eric Garner to John Crawford to Tamir Rice to Walter Scott and now Eric Harris, we just keep getting the wind knocked out of us as we bear witness to death after unnecessary death of black men at the hands of the police.
Those who police us, however, can breathe quite easily.
Watching a “police officer” yelling “Fuck your breath” as a knee is placed on the head of Harris as he’s dying, watching a police officer shoot Scott in the back, it’s clear that the inhumanity on display is not an aberration. It looks too much like these men being hunted: part Doom, part Cops. The police stalk Harris down like an animal, and you can hear them breathing so clearly just before Harris is shot, before he says “Oh my god! I’m losing my breath!”, before the cops explain how little that matters.
“Fuck your breath.”
I’ve encountered that sentiment before, at a pro-police rally outside New York’s City Hall in December 2014. Off-duty cops and their supporters chose to taunt Eric Garner from beyond the grave with his dying words (“I can’t breathe,” said some people 11 times) and by wearing shirts which read “I Can Breathe.”