International Cannabis Business Conference

End the Practice of Chokeholds by Police Departments

You don't need me to tell you that police are out of control in America. On Julu 17, another disgusting example of brutality happened in New York when cops used a chokehold to apprehend an asthmatic man, who died during the encounter.

Eric Garner's big crime is that he was known to sell single cigarettes or "loosies." Police approached him on Staten Island and when he resisted one cop got behind him and applied the chokehold, which is strictly illegal in New York. The 400-pound Garner kept yelling, "I can't breath," as four cops took him down. He died during the struggle.

Mayor Bill de Blasio delayed his vacation to show concern for the fallen citizen. "It was very sad to watch," he said about the above video. "It's very troubling." The Mayor ordered an investigation into Garner's death and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton put two of the cops - Danny Pantaleo and Justin Damico - on desk duty. They were not suspended.

Also in July, CelebStoner blogger Preston Peet reported about a similar situation in San Antonio, where police employed a chokehold during their apprehension of a marijuana suspect. After several minutes, the cops rammed his head into a wall and then wrestled him to the ground. Peet wrote that the 16-year-old was lucky to survive his police encounter. "He's alive today to tell his story," Peet maintained. "Many other police brutality incidents around the U.S. result in serious injury or even death." Chokeholds have been banned in San Antonio since an incident led to the death of a suspect in 1997.

The same goes for New York, which stopped the practice 20 years ago. Last year, there were 233 allegations of chokeholds being used by NYPD.

Bratton and de Blasio need to take a stand against the use of chokeholds by NYPD. Bratton can start by firing Panteleo, the officer primarily responsible for Eric Garner's death.

Update: On Dec. 3, a New York grand jury failed to indict Pantaleo or any other officers, setting off a wave of protests in New York and around the country.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.