Choke-holds

Weeks of induced asphyxia.

Image courtesy of 3bS Liquidators

April 8–13; updated April 19

We have just suffered through several weeks of witness and expert testimony in the trial of George Floyd’s strangler. To poke holes in the prosecution’s video released to the jury the previous week, the defense is focusing on what the jury can’t see in the video of the incident: ‘George Floyd had a drug addiction problem.’ ‘George Floyd had a heart condition.” We started the court testimony earlier in the month with a video of the act, with voices appealing to Officer Chauvin to release his choke-hold and ended up with prosecution experts providing testimony on drug addiction, heart condition, asphyxia and windpipes.

About this time I heard my friend describe a different “choke-hold.” As Michigan emerged from one “lockdown,” my friend’s son, age 10, invited a couple of friends over for a birthday celebration sleep-over. As the afternoon partying progressed my friend noticed one of the boys retreating from the games, quietly crying. My friend asked the boy why he was crying.

The boy replied, “My feet are killing me.”

“Well, let’s take a look. Untie your sneaks.”

“No, that’s ok. I am better now.”

“But you are in pain. Maybe you stubbed your toe. We have a First Aid kit.”

By this time, as my friend kept talking, distracting the boy, he untied his sneakers. The boy’s toes were bruised, black and blue.

“How long have you been wearing these shoes?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve had them for a while. I think they are hurting me.”

My friend observed quietly poverty at work in this boy’s life.

“Let’s go. I am going to buy you a new pair of shoes.”

Excusing themselves from the games, my friend took the boy to a nearby box store and bought him a pair of sneakers, two sizes larger than what he had been wearing.

About this time I heard about voter suppression laws passing in Georgia, debated in Texas and scheduled for passage in 41 states, another form of a “choke-hold.”

“Why are THEY (Republicans) doing this?,” my wife asks. “Are THEY crazy?”

How do I explain that THEY think WE are crazy.? How do I explain that division in America is the new religion, masking an oppression and a conspiracy, a cognitive choke-hold?

These are not saviors with a plan. These are the institutions that protect Derek Chauvin, the poverty gripping the boy’s feet, Mitch McConnell imploring his tribe to “keep your powder dry,” code words for strangling democracy.

America, where for some cries for help end in strangulation; where for some getting caught removes getting help. Where getting murdered is permitted to escalate from getting detained. For some.

America, where a young boy discovers pain, deprived of the joy of feeling his body grow to completion.

America, where the practice of democracy teeters on the implementation of traditional rules of conduct, where a Congressional “Parliamentarian” determines legislative outcomes.

America, country of choke-holds.

April 13

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Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.