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Spike Lee Edits Footage of Black Man’s Death at Hands of Staten Island Police w/ Radio Raheem Scene from ‘Do The Right Thing’

Spike Lee Edits Footage of Black Man's Death at Hands of Staten Island Police w/ Radio Raheem Scene from 'Do The Right Thing'

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you’re likely familiar with (and even seen the video of) the Staten Island black man who died in police custody last week.

While the exact cause of 43-year-old Eric Garner’s death has not been determined, local protest organizers are calling for the firing/resignation of the officers (as well as the Police Commissioner) who were involved in the melee that led to Garner’s death.

Officials said Sunday that 2 EMTs and 2 paramedics were placed on “modified duty” pending an investigation into Garner’s death. 2 police officers have also been put on desk duty.

Video of the arrest shot by a bystander shows one officer wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck as he is taken to the ground, arrested for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes. Because selling untaxed cigarettes is high on the list of offenses ailing our communities. 

But witnesses (as well as Garner, before his death) denied the accusations, saying that Garner had actually just broken up a fight, when police arrived.

“He intervened and broke up the fight, and that’s when the cops pulled up, let the two guys walk away ,and kept their attention toward him,” a bystander said.

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today,” Garner shouted out to the police, as they surrounded him. “I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone.”

Then, as 4 officers brought him down, pinning him to the ground, handcuffing him (the video shows 1 officer smashing Garner’s face into the pavement), Garner repeatedly tells them, “I can’t breathe!” Yet, none of the officers heeds his words. And moments later, Garner, unresponsive, dies.

“It’s crazy and I was like, ‘Perform CPR on him,’ and they was like, ‘He don’t need CPR,’” said Taisha Allen, who pulled out her phone to record the incident. “He was not breathing at the time.”

But officers said Garner was breathing.

EMTs can then be seen in the video briefly checking Garner’s condition and putting him on a gurney to take him to the hospital.

Police officials said Garner died of cardiac arrest while being transported to the hospital and that a preliminary investigation shows no damage to his windpipe.

The medical examiner’s office said in a statement that the “cause and manner” of Garner’s death are pending further studies.

The father of 6 children did suffer from asthma, his family said, adding that someone still needs to be held accountable for his death.

“He didn’t die because he stopped breathing on his own. He died because someone took his breath away,” his sister, Elissha Flagg, said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton demanded justice for Garner, during an appeal at Manhattan’s Riverside Church on Sunday.

Garner was “choked by New York City policemen,” Shaprton told the congregation. “What bothers me is that the nation watches a man say ‘I can’t breathe’ and the choking continues, and police surround him and none of them even say, ‘Wait a minute, stop! He can’t breathe!”’

For his part, director Spike Lee took the video of the incident, which went viral, and intercut scenes of Radio Raheem’s death sequence in his seminal 1989 film, "Do The Right Thing," essentially holding up a mirror to reality, emphasizing how much his art seemingly imitates (or maybe I should say, reflects) real life – still, some 25 years later, since that film’s release. 

Spike shared the video on his Instagram and YouTube pages. Watch it embedded below.

Point made?

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New York's Finest's. What do you expect? That's what they do best: kill black men for sport.


Can't help the sad feeling that Spikes motivation for intercutting this tragedy with his work is somehow self serving.


The black man has always been seen as thw bad guy,this
is what can bring to light the bad side of the World by
a froup of racist white cps.Its sad the world looks on America
for examplrs,what does this tekl tge world.


How very irresponsible of Spike, yet again.

If you remember, Radio Raheem's death incited violence. Is that what Spike hopes to do here? If so, I hope the rioters remember to destroy the white neighborhoods, too, so that Spike can see the damage up close and personally.

This is kinda like what he did when he published the address of Zimmerman's parents' house.

How very mature of you, Spike. You feel like a big man now?

Erik W.

Art imitates life.


Powerful. I'm immediately reminded of when Mickey Rourke blamed Lee and Singleton for the LA riots because of their films. What now, Rourke? Of course, Do the Right Thing was less about predicting the future and more about simply opening up the historical record for all to see. From the New York Draft Riots to the Chicago Race Riots, to Tulsa, to Watts, to the countless instances of police brutality, this is American history, a history that is still very much with us. Spike Lee's powerful edit speaks to this unfortunate continuity.

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