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Tragedies That Led To The New Civil Rights Activism

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protest, orlandoweekly.com

By now you’re aware of the tragedies that have led to the new civil rights activism as exhibited at a protest in Orlando on December 10. Well, it doesn’t get better. On Dec. 8, just two days before this previously scheduled march that was meant to coincide with the United Nations’ Human Rights Day, Orange County Sgt. Robert McCarthy shot three bullets into a stolen car, critically wounding 28-year-old Cedric Bartee.

Witnesses claim that Bartee was holding his hands up in submission; “Hands Up” has become a rallying call in this movement. So has “I can’t breathe,” the words uttered by Eric Garner – a man “caught” selling cigarettes in New York – as he was held in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Pantaleo is free. Garner, who was effectively asphyxiated for 11 minutes, is dead. Michael Brown, who was just 18 when he was shot by Ferguson, Missouri, officer Darren Wilson, was prostrate on the ground for four hours while authorities got their stories straight.

Orlando activists staged a die-in last week, in which people lay still on the ground as television reporters walked through the mock carnage. And as it came to its close – 11.5 minutes on the ground for the time it took Garner to die, 4 more minutes to symbolize the 4 hours Brown was stuck on the ground dead – and the assembled crowd of onlookers dispersed, one protester took to the microphone and read out the words of Garner, the closing words we’ve all now had burned into our heads. The words that probably ought to bring some change. “I can’t breathe.”

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