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Chokehold death continues to reverberate

choke hold vibes
NEW YORK – The Rev. Al Sharpton was in the middle of his speech recounting how Eric Garner, 43, had been killed in a chokehold by NYPD officer when Garner’s wife collapsed by his side on the stage of the National Action Network in Harlem on Saturday morning.
 
“They will try to scandalize the decease,” Sharpton said of the NYPD and what he anticipated they would say. “The issue is not about an unarmed man selling cigarettes. …It’s about a man who was subjected to a chokehold and is no longer with us.”
 
At that point, Esaw Garner collapsed and had to be held up by Sharpton and Rev. Herbert Daughtry, another prominent activist. After she was led from the stage and to a backroom, Sharpton continued his speech.  “You can never predict how someone will react to grief,” he said.
 
All of Garner’s relatives were in pain and weeping as they left the stage, including his mother, Gwen Carr, his sister Ellisha Flagg, and his daughter, Emerald Garner.
 
Sharpton promised the family that the National Action Network would pay for the funeral next week of a man the family knew as “Big E” or more affectionately the “Bear” by his wife.
 
None of these appellations were effective in stopping the officers who sought to detain him in front of a hardware store in Staten Island last Thursday. It didn’t matter to the officers who surrounded him that he was the father of six children and was known as the “Gentle Giant.”  Or, the fact that he repeatedly told them:  “I can’t breathe.”
 
Once Garner, who was asthmatic, was no longer moving the cops took a step back and one of them stooped over Garner as if to see if he was still alive.  He wasn’t.
 
The entire video can be seen on YouTube courtesy of liveleak.
 
At a press conference Friday afternoon, Mayor Bill  de Blasio, who postponed his vacation departure to Italy, expressed his condolences.  After asking that people not jump to conclusions, he said, “We have a responsibility to keep every New Yorker safe, and that includes when individuals are in custody of the NYPD.  That is a responsibility that Police Commissioner [William] Bratton and I take very seriously. We are harnessing all resources available to the city to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the circumstances of this tragic incident. The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is working closely with the Office of the Richmond County District Attorney, which is leading this investigation,” the mayor added.
 
Bratton began his remarks by citing the arrest record of Garner and explaining that the police were there to apprehend Garner for the sale of illegal cigarettes.  He said that the corner where the incident occurred had been the source of numerous complaints from storeowners. “Mr. Garner went into cardiac arrest while in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” Bratton said, “and he died upon arrival.”
 
During the question and answer session Bratton said that two of the officers involved in the incident have been placed on “desk duty” while the investigation continues, and that the “final determination” of the circumstances will come from the District Attorney’s office.
 
Watching Garner, who weighed more than 300 pounds struggle to free himself from the chokehold was reminiscent of the death of Anthony Baez in 1994.   After a football hit a police car, Baez, who also suffered from asthma, was confronted and placed in a chokehold that took his life. Two years before the incident with Baez, chokeholds had been outlawed by the NYPD.
 
 His mother was among those in attendance at the NAN rally on Saturday.
 
“The video raises serious questions and it is important that we review whether departmental procedures were followed,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.  “There must be a swift investigation of this horrific incident.”
 
New York City’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement, “Not wanting to be arrested does not grant an individual the right to resist arrest nor does it free the officers of the obligation to make the arrest,” he said. “In these cases, justice for all involved demands a complete and thorough investigation of all the facts before any conclusions are drawn.”
 
Later Saturday afternoon, Sharpton led a rally in Staten Island where he was joined by members of the Garner family as they marched to the spot where the encounter occurred.  A number of candles and flowers were placed at the spot.
 
Garner’s funeral is to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bethel Baptist Church, on Bergen Street, in Brooklyn.

Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson!

Keith Robinson
In a world where talent takes you far, Keith Robinson is ahead of the game.
 
He’s a true triple threat – having already mastered acting and songwriting, he’s now positioning himself to take over the music world with a velvety voice.
 
Before he made his way to Tinseltown, the Kentucky native set his sights on music, and attended the University of Georgia. Upon coming to Los Angeles, Keith had a chance meeting with a talent manager who jumpstarted his acting career. Since then, he’s thrived, landing an incredible 50+ projects in television and film while continuing to pursue his musical career-- often placing songs in the acting projects he stars in.

Really, NY Magazine? Couldn’t find a black rom-com for Top 25?

rom-com
I’m a big fan of New York magazine, in large part because of its cultural coverage and willingness to give a platform to artists, institutions and subjects that other mainstream publications might not. A case in point is the slide show the site just devoted to the upcoming coffee table book “Vintage Black Glamour,” which showcases rarely seen photos of black leading ladies, many from Hollywood’s golden age. (I also once wrote about the first black supermodel, Donyale Luna, for www.nymag.com.) But even publications with the best intentions can make editorial missteps fueled by lack of diversity, and I was reminded of this when taking a look at the site’s recent list of the 25 Best Romantic Comedies Since “When Harry Met Sally.”
 
To say the list lacks diversity would be an understatement. There is only one film that made the cut that does not star white casts, the Taiwanese film
“The Wedding Banquet.” I wouldn’t have a problem with this if the rest of the list comprised films that were better than some of the ones omitted. But in what universe is “Knocked Up” better than “Boomerang,” which boasts one of the best comedic ensemble casts in film history? Of course there is a catch. “Boomerang’s” cast is predominantly black and New York magazine, for all of its strengths, does not have a track record to be proud of in its treatment of black romantic comedies.

Journalist wins rights to view James Brown’s documents

James Brown
While excitement is brewing for the new James Brown biopic to be released this summer, one freelance journalist is more interested in the legal battle over the Godfather of Soul’s estate.
 
According to the Associated Press, a South Carolina circuit court judge has ordered the state’s attorney general to give Sue Summer the documents she requested under the South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, for the investigation she is conducting. Summer wanted records that include the diary of the woman who claimed to be Brown’s wife after his death in 2006, an assessment of Brown’s assets, and other such documents.

How to start getting fit for life

fit for_life
CHICAGO – Once you fully accept the fact that physical activity is one of the most powerful factors affecting your health, ability and longevity, where do you begin? Getting started, without a doubt, is the hardest part.
 
The first step, always, is to consult your health care professional. In most cases, your doctor will encourage you to get active, but be sure to bring up any specific concerns you have about exercising in relation to your health. 
 
Your doctor may caution against high impact activity, for example, if you have arthritis or other conditions affecting your joints. Make note of any activities to avoid in planning your new regimen.