“I can’t breathe” and “I can’t take it no more” are two tragic statements revealing an ugly side of law enforcement in the United States. Eric Garner’s plea for help occurred on a public street in New York City, and Darren Rainey screamed for mercy in a Florida prison.
“I can’t breathe’ were the last words of Eric Garner. The shocking video tape revealed the tragic death of another minority American at the hands of law enforcement. Despite a video showing a New York police officer using a banned chokehold on Mr.Garner, the police officer was not indicted. Excessive force and/or brutal actions occur not only on Main street, but in our prisons and jails throughout the United States.
“I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,” was screamed by Darren Rainey as he was scalded to death in a Florida prison. Mr. Rainey was a Black american who suffered from mental illnesses. On June 23, 2012, he was locked in a locked closet sized shower by prison guards after defecating in his cell and refusing to clean the mess. Mr. Rainey, because of his history of mental health issues, was incarcerated in the mental health unit at the Dade Correctional Unit in Miami, Florida. According to an inmate who worked at the unit as an orderly, the tiny shower was filled with steam and scalding water.
After one hour, the guards checked on Mr. Rainey. A medical document regarding his death noted that his skin was extremely burned and had shriveled from his body. The inmate, Mr. Hempstead, who witnessed the end of inmate Rainey, filed a grievance complaint stating that Mr. Rainey kept screaming, “I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” According to court records, the water temperature in the show was close to 105 degrees. A medical note showed more than 90 percent of Rainey’s body was burned and his skin came off when touched. No criminal charges have been filed against any prison guard for this brutal death. Almost fifty prison guards were fired in Florida this past year because of prison abuse allegations.
There are many good police officers and correctional officers who go to work every day doing their best under trying circumstances. However, there are a significant number of law enforcement officers who are prejudiced in their actions against Americans who are of different color, race, religion, and even against those who have mental health issues. We need a zero tolerance policy for bigotry, excessive force, and acts of brutalization by the police in the outside world and by the correctional officers inside our prisons and jails.
By Bradley Schwartz:
Founder of prisonpath.com