Ersula Ore. Eric Garner. Jahmil-El Cuffee. Rosan Miller. Marlene Pinnock. Al Flowers. Alonzo Grant. This is just a sample of the men and women who have been savagely, and unnecessarily, beaten by police officers this summer. Garner's case, in which an NYPD officer used a chokehold to restrain the 43-year-old Staten Island father, resulted in death (On Friday a medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide at the hands of the NYPD). Since then, the topic of "police brutality" has become a national talking point and has sparked outcry from elected officials and community members asking for police reform nationwide. Just last week, in a meeting at New York City Hall, Rev. Al Sharpton told Mayor Bill De Blasio of his biracial son: "If Dante wasn't your son, he'd be a candidate for a chokehold." And it's true. But why? How, in Obama's America, did we end up here?
Looking for answers, I spoke with Mychal Denzel Smith, a writer who covers race and politics for The Nation, Ruby-Beth Buitekant, a community organizer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Darnell L. Moore, writer, activist, and managing editor of The Feminist Wire. Our conversation appears below.