xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Maryland must ban police chokeholds | READER COMMENTARY

In this file image made from police body cam video, New York Police officers arrest a man on a boardwalk Sunday, June 21, 2020, in New York. The man whose takedown by police, as shown in this photo, led to an officer being charged for using what officials said was an illegal chokehold has himself been taken into custody in connection with an attempted robbery and slashing, the New York Police Department said Tuesday, July 7. (NYPD via AP, File)
In this file image made from police body cam video, New York Police officers arrest a man on a boardwalk Sunday, June 21, 2020, in New York. The man whose takedown by police, as shown in this photo, led to an officer being charged for using what officials said was an illegal chokehold has himself been taken into custody in connection with an attempted robbery and slashing, the New York Police Department said Tuesday, July 7. (NYPD via AP, File) (AP)

It was approximately six years ago when the cry, “I can’t breathe,” first rang out across America with the senseless murder of Eric Garner in New York City. Watching the nightly news, we witnessed New York police put Mr. Garner in a chokehold until the breath left his body. The crime committed was selling single cigarettes without bearing a tax stamp, a misdemeanor that should have warranted a fine or warning. His words have continued to echo over and over again as we have dealt with multiple deaths including the most recent police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis (”Attorney General Barr testifies before House, saying ‘violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests,‘” July 28).

Since Mr. Floyd’s death, legislators and protesters around the world are calling for a ban on chokehold restraints — those which cut off airflow through the windpipe, as well as carotid strangle holds which cut blood flow to the brain. Law enforcement agencies in most major cities freely admit this technique is neither taught nor sanctioned by any police department. Without a doubt, it is considered an excessive use of force as well as inhuman treatment. Every state in America should review the laws on their books and determine to find other methods of restraint. Deadly force is not acceptable and hard to reason as a justifiable tactic when applied to a suspect committing a low-level crime or when there is no life being threatened.

Advertisement

The great state of Maryland has had at least two such cases, Chris Brown and Anton Black. We only see and know about the high-profile cases. However, two such deaths are two too many. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland 2015 findings, it is impossible to accurately know how many deaths were committed related to chokeholds. Apparently, no state or federal law has ever required police in Maryland to report civilian deaths that occur during police encounters. The ACLU also determined that 69% of those who died in a police encounter (75 people) were Black. Blacks make up 29% of Maryland’s population.

Maryland must join New York, Minneapolis, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., and California in implementing a ban on chokeholds. We, the people of Maryland, must demand Gov. Larry Hogan sign an executive order to get the job done in the 18 agencies that he’s responsible for and set the tone for local municipalities to follow suit. Enough is enough.

Advertisement

Eunice Gill-Grant, North East

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement