In photos: Asheville responds to Eric Garner decision

Photo by John Penley

Protesters took to the streets in Asheville in the wake of the Dec. 3 grand jury decision not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July 2014 death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner.

Garner was approached by police for allegedly selling loose cigarettes out of the pack, and Pantaleo placed him in an apparent chokehold. The arrest was recorded and shows Garner on the ground complaining that he cannot breathe. He died about an hour later.

The city medical examiners ruled that Garner was killed from the compression to his neck. Use of chokeholds by NYPD police has been against policy since 1993.

Slideshow photos by John Penley

The decision not to indict Pantaleo brought protests throughout the country, and people rallied in Asheville on Dec. 4. Deb Burns from Marshall attended the protest with her husband, Jerry.

“We’re frustrated. I can’t comprehend how it didn’t at least go to trial so people can make up their minds,” she said. “I’m tired of sitting back and doing nothing. By doing nothing, you’re condoning it.”

Connie Jean Conklin drove about an hour from Dillsboro to attend the protest. She said about a decade ago, she was a victim of police violence.

“I’ve been seeing more and more incidents of violence, and it’s very scary to me. I don’t think it’s just a black-white issue. There are forces manipulating it and making it look that way. It’s gotta stop, it’s getting worse instead of getting better. It’s scary that the world is going backwards instead of forwards.”

Black lives matter

Photo by Pat Barcas

Loud protest

Photo by Pat Barcas

Seeking justice

Photo by Pat Barcas


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at Follow me @pbarcas

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “In photos: Asheville responds to Eric Garner decision

  1. Luci Tomlin

    First, If he had been held in a choke-hold, he would not have been able to speak, much less say “I can’t breathe” almost a dozen times! Second: Part of the blame should be laid at the door of the local business’s who complained constantly about this man who was jut trying to make a living! Because he was selling cigarettes without paying taxes? Did THIS keep these store owners from making a PROFIT because Mr Garner sold a few cigarettes without paying taxes on them? Was there no more serious crime to seek out? Sure it was illegal, sure he had been arrested numerous times, he was over-weight and had diabetes! But did you see FIVE COPS on him? Black AND white? That is a WAY over-board arrest! Was he going to escape or RUN? Not likely! THIS has NOTHING to do with race, but the professional PRO-protesters will MAKE it about race! The more we are divided, the more THEY will be able to use the black race to ignite the fires of hate and discontent! The Professional Race-baiters KNOW they can no longer control them, so they have to keep them stirred, roiled, incensed, angry against authority, whites, and anyone else who dares tries to create calm! With Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Eric Holder, and black America-haters like the rabid new black panthers who encourage death to white police? Who wear their impessive weapons and fancy gear, want to destroy this Country yet FEED off it without earning a living? Running in packs because they’re cowards as singles? One on one with an ex-Marine and they’d turn kitten instead of panther! When Martin Luther King came through Florida up through Alabama I lived in Georgia, but my home was in Swannanoa. My Daddy, Reverend Clarence Wheeler taught us from childhood that God made ALL of us special, and LOVED us all the same! He had black Ministers in his church in Patton Cove, and he preached in Black churches! This was back when you were an “N” lover if you even spoke to someone of another color! He was a TRUE Rev., paid his taxes, and lived what he PREACHED! The REV. (Revolutionaries) that spew hate and racism? If they could even FIND their Bible it would be so dusty you could probably sow grass seed on it! During the Civil Rights marches I walked with the Conservatives in Florida while the Liberals called us horrible, degrading names, spit on us, and made small children cry! It was VERY dangerous to do so back then too! We also walked in Asheville! It was horrible to see how blacks were treated simply because their skin was different? It was sickening! Now it is happening all over again in reverse! We desperately NEED another Martin Luther King of ANY color/ gender! But he/ she would not be allowed to give HIS/HER message of tolerance, love, unity, fellowship, and judging each other by the content of our hearts either! How VERY SAD!

    • Dionysis

      Only three specific points to note, without addressing your long screed.

      1.”The city medical examiner has ruled the death of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old father whose death in police custody sparked national outrage, a homicide, saying a chokehold killed him.

      The medical examiner said compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner’s positioning on the ground while being restrained by police during the July 17 stop on Staten Island, caused his death.”

      2. “A person with a partly blocked airway can still breathe, speak or cough. Symptoms include:

      Panicked and distressed behaviour
      Inability to talk in complete sentences or at full volume
      Frantic coughing
      Unusual breathing sounds, such as wheezing or whistling
      Clutching at the throat
      Watery eyes
      Red face.”

      3. The merchants did not ask for or expect the man to be killed for selling untaxed cigarettes, only to be removed from their store areas. This is just an effort to insert irrelevant political ideology into the issue, as Rand Paul tried but failed to do a few days ago.

  2. Luci Tomlin

    You missed the entire point! There should have NOT been five Policemen on one man! They knew he had been arrested before, and no doubt that he also had diabetes, and knew where he lived! Why send five Officers to arrest him? No one went to arrest him with the purpose of killing him, but the one who contributed to his death should have been charged! That was a no-brainer! The point I was trying to get through is, the PAID professional protesters are what always contributes to the racial divide getting wider! If it was NOT for this racial divide, the Progressive Coalition would collapse! It HAS to be toxic to survive!

    • Dionysis

      Yes, I understood fully your “point.” None of the protests sweeping the country could possibly be anything but the work of Ted Sorors and the mighty labor unions paying tons of cash for people to feign outrage. Fox “News” and the rest of the conservative cable welfare blabbersphere have been trying to push the same drivel, without a shred of proof.

      I stand by my corrections to your factually incorrect posting. The rest is your opinion and your business.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.