I apologize that it has taken me so long to get this post out; it should have been more timely. This mosaic was made from letters photographed on signage in my hometown, Putnam, CT.

#ICantBreathe was the most used hashtag on Twitter in the last months of 2014 and reflected the tragic death of Eric Garner, on July 17, 2014 on Staten Island, NY, after a police officer put him in a chokehold…an act of restraint specifically barred from the NYPD handbook. The incident was caught on video and clearly Mr. Garner can be heard repeating, “I can’t breathe” several times, but to no avail. He choked to death.

Mostly sadly, the officers at the scene were somehow exonerated from any legal responsibility for their actions. (In what was truly ironic, the only person to go to jail was the person who shot the video, who was arrested on an unrelated, outstanding warrant.) Because Mr. Garner was black, this immediately—and I think rightly—opened the question of the way that black people are treated by police everywhere in America and specifically in New York.

There are race issues in the United States and they need to be dealt with. Not ignored, not hushed, not argued with, but dealt with, once and for all. They have festered too long.

Please remember Eric Garner and keep both him and his family in your prayers.

I would also like to invite you to visit the poetry blog, the Book of Pain. Thank you for dropping by the Book of Bokeh.

All photographs and comments ©2015 by John Etheridge with all rights reserved; not to be used without the expressed written permission of the copyright owner.


20 thoughts on “#ICantBreathe

  1. John, I’m fortunate that I have enough sense to visit my favorite blogs, and go back to the earlier posts. Yet, there is some ambivalence here. You wrote about some of the tragedy that happens … now … regardless of the emphasis on training & civil rights. The upside of the ambivalence, here, is you have brought to my attention what needs to be brought … while reflecting your heart for people and their dignity, and their rights. Good man, good post.

  2. There are plenty of unjustifiable acts done by authorities all over the World. Sad but true. Such practices should be banned. I hope that day will come soon.

  3. This was on the news in the UK. Unfortunately such incidents are not limited to USA. Police do do a good job sometimes but unfortunately they get it wrong on occasions but seem incapable of owning the problem or apologising

    • Matt, an excellent point. I agree…I appreciate that policing is a very hard and dangerous job and done often under trying circumstances and often with the most terrible of people. I support our police departments as much as I can. However, it is impossible to overlook that there are some officers who are bad, some who are wrong and some who hide behind the badge. There has to be more accountability and justice.

  4. It feels as though its been a very sad few months – I often wish my job didn’t so often lead to my reading the news! A poignant post, John. I am sorry I disappeared from WordPress again, by the way. My only excuse is that now I have a full draft of my first book :S


    • Elizabeth, as I said on your site a few minutes ago…it has been far, far too long hearing from you and I miss you very much! And a draft of a book! That is so exciting! Come on, come on, dish…please, details, details, details! 🙂 🙂

      • It’s in the editing stage! I’ll have to decide whether I should try self-publishing or not :S The book is called Orison (I published a few snippets on my blog) and it is about a child who is orphaned, and goes seeking vengeance, in a land reminiscent of feudal Japan…

        • Wow! Once you are famous and collecting your Newbury prize (the Pulitzer and Nobel being rather stodgy about fantasy literature unless first published in Spanish), can I say, “Oh, Elizabeth?!?! I knew here when…” 🙂

          I am looking forward to reading your book, very, very much! I cannot remember reading any snippets like that, but I am looking forward to reading it soon1

  5. A diverse community represented by different type faces coming together to condemn a wilful act of violence – this is very moving John. Sad that it needs to be replicated but we must remember.

  6. We’ve heard about that here as well. It is very shocking. The man is unarmed, this practice is banned. It’s on a video and nothing matters. I don’t get it. I agree with you, race issues are need to be dealt with. Not only in the US I’m afraid.

    • Sad, but I do not doubt you for a minute. Racism is, has always been and will remain the greatest scourge on this planet until dealt with. There is nothing more important than justice…true justice for this poor, beleaguered world. Thank you for responding so kindly! 🙂

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