Spike Lee Just Made A Video of Eric Garner's Death Spliced With Radio Raheem From "Do The Right Thing"

December 4th 2014

ATTN: Staff

By now, you've probably heard that a grand jury has decided not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. Garner was suffocated to death while being subdued by police on a sidewalk in New York City for selling cigarettes. The graphic video of his death was captured on tape by a bystander at the scene and went viral shortly after its release. 

Radio Raheem was a character in Spike Lee's influential 1989 film "Do The Right Thing" who met a similar fate to Garner, being strangled to death by police while in the midst of an argument in New York. 

Lee just made the following video to showcase the vexing similarities between Garner and Raheem:

Both Raheem and Garner were big black men; although Garner was known widely as a "gentle giant," the cultural representations of big black males in the media are ubiquitously threatening. The author and cultural critic James Baldwin referred to this phenomenon in a 1968 interview with Esquire Magazine, in which he stated the following:

I really have no quarrel particularly with the policemen. I can see the trouble they're in. They're hopelessly ignorant and terribly frightened. They believe everything they see on television, as most people in this country do. They are endlessly respectable, which means to say they are Saturday-night sinners. The country has got the police force it deserves and of course if a policeman sees a black cat in what he considers a strange place he's going to stop him; and you know of course the black cat is going to get angry. And then somebody may die. But it's one of the results of the cultivation in this country of ignorance. Those cats in the Harlem street, those white cops; they are scared to death and they should be scared to death. But that's how black boys die, because the police are scared. And it's not the policemen's fault; it's the country's fault.