Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Conservatives and Liberals Are United on Eric Garner Case

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Conservatives and Liberals Are United on Eric Garner Case

Article excerpt

Reaction to the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo., not to indict police officer Darren Wilson largely divided Americans along racial and political lines, ripping open a chasm between conservatives - many of whom supported Mr. Wilson's testimony and the decision - and liberals, who saw the incident as an example of police brutality and racial injustice.

In the case of Eric Garner, reaction has been immediate and almost unanimous across the political spectrum.

In July, Mr. Garner, an unarmed black man, was confronted by several New York City police officers who suspected him of illegally selling individual cigarettes outside of a store in Staten Island. One police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put Garner in a fatal chokehold when he resisted arrest. The incident was captured on video. A grand jury decided on Wednesday to not indict Pantaleo.

Reaction was swift, and unlike in the case in Ferguson, many on the political right and left united to condemn the grand jury decision, a rare event in an age of acute polarization.

The cover of the conservative New York Post says: "IT WAS NOT A CRIME," written in big, bold letters, accompanied by still frames of Pantaleo putting Garner in a chokehold.

Fox News syndicated columnist and contributor Charles Krauthammer called the grand jury's decision "totally incomprehensible."

"I think anybody who looks at the video would think this was the wrong judgment," Krauthammer said.

"It defies reason. It makes no sense," wrote Sean Davis at the Federalist. "Just going on the plain language of the law, the police officer who killed Garner certainly appears to be guilty of second- degree manslaughter at the very least ... All we have to do is watch the video and believe our own eyes."

Leon Wolf of the conservative blog Redstate wrote, "This decision is really and truly baffling to me, and infuriating besides."

Conservative commentator Erick Erickson endorsed this statement from the conservative Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. "[A] government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice."

Twitter also lit up with reaction, with many on the right uniting to condemn the decision.

Eric Garner died cuz he was selling cigs by the single. That's a crime in NYC. Death is inexcusable. Police behavior sure looked inexcusable-- John Nolte (@NolteNC) December 3, 2014

The results of big government, #NannyStateEnforcement, and @MikeBloomberg 's excise tax --> #EricGarner . Appalling and obscene.-- Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 3, 2014

Government is simply a word for the things we decide to do together. Like choke men to death over rules governing the sale of cigarettes. …

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