Chris Rock was vocal in his criticism of the grand jury decision not to prosecute Darren Wilson, the white officer responsible for the shooting dead of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.
In an interview with New York magazine published this week, he described the idea of race relations in America and racial progress as “nonsense” and declared that there was none.
“White people were crazy,” he said. “Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.”
But he didn’t need an hour-and-a-half of rhetoric to express his frustrations about the grand jury decision not to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the man who held black father-of-six Eric Garner in a chokehold until he died in July:
This one was on film. http://t.co/Zm7DKL09okChris Rock (@chrisrock) December 3, 2014
At first glance, his statement, linking to a video image of Garner – who was suspected of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes by police – seems less than inflammatory.
But the comedian’s subtle reference to the debate for more officers to be fitted with body cameras in order to prevent violent outbursts in the future is actually a pretty powerful one.
Rock appears to suggest that, despite the presence of video evidence, and despite the fact officers were aware that they were being filmed as they wrestled Garner to the floor, their actions still ultimately led to his death.
The argument for body-fitted cameras is that the presence of the devices alone should be enough for an arresting officer to demonstrate his ability to control his behaviour in keeping with law enforcement guidelines.
The argument from protestors against the use of cameras is that the police are there to protect civilians, and shouldn't need technological deterrents to stop them from causing harm.
According to the Huffington Post US, a recent poll suggested that 84 per cent of all Americans supported the installation of the equipment.
On Monday, President Obama stated his intentions to sign an order that would cover the cost of fitting body cameras to 50,000 officers.
Training for NYPD officers on the use of body cameras was set in motion just hours before the grand jury decision to indict Pantaleo was heard.
They are expected to be fully in use by the force by the end of the week.Reuse content