The last words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe,” having become a chilling a reminder of excessive and oft-violent force that is used by police, even when the alleged suspect is unarmed and non-confrontational. Those words re-entered public consciousness when they were repeated, again, by George Floyd as he lay dying at the hands of police officers.
The three simple words now have such a powerful movement them, with many in American banding together to protest the police, and call for action when it comes to reforming the laws that disproportionately target minorities. Since Minneapolis became the center of focus, the city has not only banned chokeholds, but following that, disbanded their police.
Eric Garner’s mother at a press conference on June 2, 2020 calling for a ban on chokeholds – Scott Heins/Getty Images
Now, New York is also taking action when it comes to using chokeholds in the police force. On Monday, the New York State Assembly passed a new act, which Governor Andrew Cuomo will reportedly sign into law, that criminalizes the use of chokeholds that result in injury or death. The law is being named after Eric Garner, who was killed in a chokehold by a police officer six years ago, after being suspected of selling loose cigarettes.
If a police officer kills or injures someone through the use of a chokehold or another form of excessive restraint, this bill would make it so that they can be charged with a class C felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.