Eric Garner told five police officers he couldn’t breathe nine times before the officer who had him in the illegal chokehold finally loosened his grip. Nine times. He wasn’t screaming or cursing at the officers or trying to hit anyone. He was gasping for breath, using what little oxygen he had left in his lungs to send a message he hoped would save his life:

I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.

And then he stopped breathing altogether.

Imagine if you were rough-housing with a mate and he twisted your arm but instead of being funny, it really hurt. Imagine if it took telling him you were in pain nine times to get him to let go.

Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
Stop. That hurts.
You’d be pretty mad.

Or imagine being with someone who was injured and you grabbed the phone to call 911 only to be told by the dispatcher you had to repeat the instruction nine times if you expected anyone to pay attention.

NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 
NINE ONE ONE. 

You’d be livid. But at least you’d still be alive.

The five officers who subdued Eric Garner have no business riding around in vehicles with a slogan which reads “To Protect and To Serve…” because they obviously have no idea what the words mean. Well boys, it’s actually a promise from the police inside the car to the citizens outside the car that their presence is meant to keep them safe from harm and they are on hand to perform tasks which benefit the community. I think if nothing else happens now, it should be insisted that the slogan be removed from police vehicles. It’s no longer a promise. It’s a joke. And not a very funny one.

Here’s the transcript of Eric Garner’s last ever words:

EricGarnet-I cant breathe

Rest in peace big guy …

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