During an interview with Gawker, RZA spoke on the death of Eric Garner and addressed the continuing questions surrounding police brutality in America.
RZA says the death of Garner, who was fatally choked by New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, was not just about race.
“It wasn’t just a Black, White thing, it was about authority and about empowering a man who didn’t have power before and who overexerted his power,” RZA says. “When it comes down to the race issue, it looked to me, the whole situation reminded me of the guys in my neighborhood who would get jumped, guys who didn’t belong there. You would think that Staten Island [where Garner was killed and RZA was raised] would have grown past aggression.”
When asked whether or not he thought the police officers acted aggressively, RZA says the footage looked like a “gang fight.”
“Those gentlemen were wrong — the cop had a utility belt of options for different escalating scenarios,” RZA says. “He had a stick, pepper spray. He had his physical training, but to jump up on him? It looked like a gang fight, and that’s totally wrong. The cops had other options — I’ve been pepper sprayed before. It’s 100 percent efficient. You gonna chill out. It’s a chill pill.”
Lastly, RZA questioned the decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo — the New York City police officer who can be seen on camera choking Eric Garner.
“The real problem I have with it is that we got the guy [police officer Daniel Pantaleo] red-handed, in HD quality,” RZA says. “And not just the one cop. All those cops should have been indicted. Those are the guys who give us the non-value of Black life… The system works but only in certain cases. When you run a red light, the camera light flashes and takes a picture of your plate. You will get a ticket. You will get charged. Because there’s a picture, whether it shows your face or not. Here we have a man who was killed and there is a clear image of it, but there’s no indictment.
“It’s different when there’s HD quality video going along with it,” RZA adds. “This generation is questioning a lot of what they’re taught. A Black man being targeted is nothing new. With Mike Brown, the video is questionable but it’s beyond a shadow of a doubt with what happened with Eric Garner. Even with all our tech advances we are actually devolving. When Rodney King got done up by those cops, the video was grainy and they got away with it. But now? Now we have clean quality, up-close shots and the people who run the system are still saying no, there is no crime here.”
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