From Eric Garner to Occupied Palestine: A common enemy and struggle

This slightly edited article first appeared online on July 29, 2014, on

Against the illuminating backdrop of the Dred Scott Decision of 1857, there exist disturbing parallels between the cowardly New York Police Department’s racist killing of Eric Garner and the on-going, genocidal assault against the heroic Palestinian people by the Zionist garrison state of Israel. These parallels are fervently anchored in the ideology of exceptionalism, imperial expansion and white supremacy. They go to the very heart of how the United States developed into an unprecedented empire, along with the creation of Israel as an extension to that end.

West Bank, Occupied Palestine. (Photo: Hamdi Abu Rahma)

In effect, this settler-state, intrusively planted in the Middle East, owes much of its existence and behavior to the world-threatening model, carefully crafted by the United States, from its bloody inception. Israel is a “mini-carbon-copy” of U.S. imperialist greed and dominance.

The Indigenous population of what was to become known as North America was virtually wiped out and replaced by enslaved Africans, forcibly deposited on its shores. Neither the Native peoples nor Africans, contrary to myths, passively accepted the practices of land theft and stolen labor.

Chief Crazy Horse and Harriet Tubman immediately come to mind as symbols of resistance. Rebellion continues to run through their children’s veins, despite ingenious attempts by the ruling class to pacify and smokescreen its disgraceful deeds.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prophetically pointed out, “Truth crushed to earth shall rise again.” The pristine monument of him, recently erected in Washington, D.C., can never fully hide the J. Edgar Hoover-led FBI war waged against him and other freedom fighters. Many still remember his April 1967 speech at New York’s Riverside Church strongly opposing the deceitfully introduced and criminal U.S. military presence in Vietnam.

The Dred Scott Decision of 1857, presided over by Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, nefariously reaffirmed the legal and culturally held belief that Africans in the U.S., slave or free, had no rights that whites were bound to respect! When looking at the NYPD-instigated death of Eric Garner and the fraudulent excuse by Israel about the deaths of three Israeli teenagers as the pretext to resume its genocidal attacks against the Palestinians by a heavily militarized state, the immediate and stark violations become unavoidable in the Dred Scott context.

Disenfranchisement and destruction

African-American Eric Garner lived in the NYPD-occupied Black and Latinx section of Staten Island. Palestinians live in Israeli-controlled Gaza and the West Bank. Both peoples are subject to the whims of occupying armies. In both instances, their human and political rights are eroded and made a mockery of on a daily basis. The history of contempt and the evasion of responsibility for causing such pain are well documented, yet disingenuously denied by the occupiers.

Adding insult to injury, the besieged parties are shamelessly blamed for authoring their own misery and/or death by these same, heavily armed and numerically superior forces!

The courageously recorded video of Eric Garner’s demise on July 17 clearly tells what happened when the “Five-Oh” NYPD attack dogs surrounded him. With his hands in the air, the deadly chokehold was applied in sneak-attack fashion from behind. While he was being wrestled to the ground, his last words were, “I can’t breathe.” His earlier denials of any wrongdoing were cavalierly ignored. And he expressed indignation about being badgered by the cops. According to the video footage, not a shred of effort was made to restore his breathing by the cops and the Emergency Medical Services!

To no surprise, none of the police involved in the killing of Garner were charged with any offenses, much less for murder. In fact, Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put the chokehold on Garner, was put on desk duty despite a well-known history of police abuse.

There are countless, outrageous and humiliating stories about Palestinians being abused at checkpoints, from molestations to death at the cruel hands of settlers and Israeli military forces. Israeli President Ben Netanyahu, like NYC Police Chief Bill Bratton, doubletalks while generally defending these obscene practices. In 2012, the NYPD opened an office in Israel!

State-sponsored terrorism

Black and Latinx people in the U.S., like their sisters and brothers in Palestine, remain the targets of state-sponsored terrorism. It is reinforced with declared and undeclared Jim Crow laws. The results are largely the same. The results are not acceptable!

Adolph Hitler, in his book, “Mein Kampf,” credits none other than the U.S. itself in laying out the formula he used for land theft, population reduction and the enslavement of subject people in his demented pursuit of world domination!

The United States seeks world domination, big time! Rationales offered are found in the notions of manifest destiny, U.S. exceptionalism, imperial expansion, along with open, crude or cleverly hidden doses of racism. That is the fuel that powers its economic and political systems. And that won’t change on its own accord. Take a critical look at its sordid record!

Israel, as an extension of this philosophy, added the woefully specious argument of “A land without a people, for a people without a land” to justify, since 1948, the heartless displacement of the Palestinian people from their Indigenous land.

A lust for control of the oil, gas and water in the region, Israel has been backed up with countless stockpiles of military and political hardware (to the tune of billions of dollars) as a reward and obligation to carry out the insidious plans of its relentless benefactor, the U.S., as well as its own plans. It cannot prevail.

As we honor the memories of Eric Garner, Anthony Baez, Amadou Diallo, Eleanor Bumpurs, Ramarley Graham, Kimani Gray, Kyam Livingston and so many others at the time of Israel’s recent assault inspired by U.S. imperialism, at home and abroad, let’s remember comrade Joe Hill’s admonishment, “Don’t mourn, organize!” In truth, “We are all Gaza.”

Hagins is a former chairperson of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition in New York City.

Eric Garner

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