Fox News Thinks Eric Garner Is Way Less Important Than The Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony

Just a week after a Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson on any charges related to the death of black teenager Michael Brown, a grand jury in Staten Island decided that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold, will face no charges in Garner's death. I wanted desperately to be surprised by the decision, but I was not. Equally unsurprising was Fox News' concern over the Christmas lighting that may be interrupted by protests following this incendiary decision.

Immediately following the announcement of the decision, Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson provided her insights to the case, and made clear her feelings on the troubling ruling. Emphasizing that in the infamous video of the incident, "Eric Garner was selling things illegally, cigarettes and such on the street when the cops approached him," Carlson also reminded her viewers that Garner "resisted arrest" before being placed in an illegal chokehold by Officer Pantaleo.

A troubling situation indeed, particularly considering the cellphone also shows Garner gasping his last words, "I can't breathe," before succumbing to his violent arrest. Those dying words have rung harshly in the minds of allies and supporters across the country, who have mobilized throughout the last several months in various protests against police brutality and problematic race relations across the country.

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In the face of such a seemingly unbelievable decision — chokeholds are currently illegal in the NYPD, and video evidence as well as autopsy reports show that Pantaleo's chokehold was the cause of Garner's death — it is understandable that Americans across the country are concerned. But the root of Carlson's concern was not so much the decision itself as its repercussions. Namely, the tree lighting ceremony in New York. Because when black lives don't matter, nothing matters more than Judeo-Christian traditions.

In her commentary of the decision, Carlson is quick to remind viewers that "there have been these protests in Times Square right outside of our building here for the last week or so since the non-indictment came down in the Ferguson situation." She continues, "So i certainly hope nothing's going to happen here in New York City today, and we've got the tree lighting ceremony."

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She said that.

On live television.

Just moments after a grand jury decided that the police officer who put Eric Garner in a chokehold was not responsible for his death.

Her biggest concern was the tree lighting ceremony.

Are you kidding?

It may be difficult for some of us — those who have not experienced constant discrimination — to find space for empathy and compassion in moments like this. But that does not mean that we are exempt from trying our damnedest to do so. And if our traditions, like the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Times Square needs to be disrupted in order for us to understand the sort of constant disruption that happens in the lives of minorities and non-conforming peoples in America, then that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

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If the most uncomfortable thing, the biggest problem Carlson can identify as a result of the Garner decision is the cancellation of a few shiny lights, that is evidence enough in and of itself of just how incomparably different lives can be in the United States. If the Christmas Tree matters more than the life of Eric Garner, the problem in America is bigger than I'd originally thought.

Following Carlson's terrible epiphany, her guest, Arthur Aidala, made an attempt to justify the ruling by insisting that Garner was not actually placed in a chokehold, but was rather in a position similar to being held in place by a seatbelt. Of course, a seatbelt doesn't normally cause death by way of "compression of his neck and chest," but I doubt that would matter very much to Aidala.

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Pantaleo has released a statement in response to the grand jury decision, saying,

I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves. It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.

Unfortunately for Fox News and Gretchen Carlson, the tree lighting ceremony may indeed be cancelled. At the very least, Mike Grynbaum of the New York Times reported via Twitter that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has cancelled his scheduled appearance at the event.

In a statement following the decision, de Blasio said,

Today’s outcome is one that many in our city did not want. Yet New York City owns a proud and powerful tradition of expressing ourselves through nonviolent protest. We trust that those unhappy with today’s grand jury decision will make their views known in the same peaceful, constructive way. We all agree that demonstrations and free speech are valuable contributions to debate, and that violence and disorder are not only wrong, but hurt the critically important goals we are trying to achieve together.

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