Soapbox: Speak up to end the use of chokeholds

By Michelle Deal Winfield

“I can’t breathe,” was uttered by Eric Garner in 2014, as he took his last breath after Officer Daniel Pantaleo applied a chokehold to his neck, a procedure banned by the New York Police Department, NYPD. The procedure is banned but some police officers have continued to use it. Alissa Scheller, in The Huffington Post in 2014, wrote, “Chokehold complaints are predominantly in black neighborhoods.”

In 1993, the NYPD ban prohibited police officers from applying any pressure to the neck during arrest. So what is all the fuss about if the tactic is banned? Despite the ban, officers continue to use the practice and there is no New York City law to address it. The chokehold is not illegal.

The Progressive Caucus, 28 members of the New York City Council, proposed Intro. 540-A, which defines the chokehold as an illegal act punishable by imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.

On Friday, December 2, a rally was held at the steps of City Hall to demand that Mayor de Blasio sign the no chokehold bill. There were representatives from all five boroughs. Council Member Rory I. Lancman stated, “Mayor de Blasio has threatened to veto this bill.” Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, cried on the day before the second anniversary of Eric Garner’s murder. Carr said, “You are not exempt! This bill will not help my son but it will help your son, your nephew or your grandson.” Minister Kristen John Foy, National Action Network, expressed disappointment saying, “Mayor de Blasio has reversed his campaign promise.” Since the ban on chokeholds, the numbers have increased.

I’m issuing a challenge to the good people that live in this hamlet. Speak up for the basic human rights all of us deserve.

Looking back on history, Stuyvesant Town Housing Development, owned by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, was built for “whites only.” Yes, the housing was built for families needing apartments but restricted its occupants by color. Then, the New York City Council proposed the first legislation to prohibit racial discrimination in housing. The Stuyvesant Town tenant activists formed a coalition and supported the Brown-Isaacs’ bill in 1951 that led to housing for all. The bill was replicated in other municipalities. Thank you.

Join in this fight. Raise your voices for humanity! Mayor de Blasio, sign Intro. bill 540-A!

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”–Benjamin Franklin

Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood in each one. All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 650 words, to

2 thoughts on “Soapbox: Speak up to end the use of chokeholds

  1. Your column is a false equivalence. Those seeking equality in housing were not breaking the law like Eric Garner was, selling loosies and then resisting a lawful police order to submit. Our society has gone too far into permissiveness where people don’t respect the rule of law, or even the rules designed to keep them safe and sound. NYPD does a great job protecting the law abiding citizens of NYC. I support them, and have no sympathy for people who fight with the police. If you’re wrongfully arrested, bail out and have your day in court. All these claims of oppression are nonsense.

    • WHAT?! Did you just come out of a cave somewhere? Where have you been, man? Does “resisting” mean death? Ignorance must be bliss.

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