Eric Garner was huge in the news. Most have probably seen the cell phone footage of cops taking down the big man as he said: “I Can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”. Taibbi uses his journalistic skills to try to paint a picture of not only who Garner was but the overall feel of New York and the police tactics leading up to the incident.
Garner didn’t have an easy life. He turned to drug dealing for a while to make things work. When Bloomberg raised the cigarette tax in New York Garner switched from seeing drugs to selling smokes. He would get busted all the time with packs on him and the police would take not only all the cigarettes he had on him but the money he had made. On the day that Garner died he actually wasn’t selling. He was around but had just broken up a fight and was in no mood to be harassed by the cops for selling loosies when he wasn’t actually selling that day.
Throughout this book, Taibbi interview’s various family members, including Garner’s wife, girlfriend, and daughter Erica (who is said to be very much like her father in stubbornness). This is not a happy story. This book discusses how the judicial system let down the Garner family because Officer Daniel Pantaleo had many complaints against him and should have been reprimanded before the arresting chokehold he put on Eric Garner.
Taibbi closes the book discussing how race relations have not improved. He discusses how Trump came in with rhetoric that was not meant to build bridges but one that was to set the Whites apart in a more a position of power. Taibbi worries about the policing methods will not look to fix problems but will look more to keep people down.