Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the most infamous police killing of Eric Garner – and was thereafter targeted by police in a barrage of “false and/or trumped up charges” – was sentenced to four years in prison for gun possession and drug charges.
While many of NYPD’s finest will celebrate the silencing of an activist who helped expose police brutality, the reality is that another man is being locked in a cage for victimless crimes, while the one who murdered Eric Garner walks free.
“Ramsey Orta told his family “it will be okay” in Staten Island Supreme Court as Justice Stephen Rooney read out his sentence.
As court officers put handcuffs on Orta, protesters stood up in the courtroom, holding their fists in the air, flashing peace signs and chanting, “No justice no peace! F--k these racist police!”
The only two charges that stuck were possessing a handgun and selling heroin to an undercover cop. However, according to Orta's family, no fingerprints or DNA belonging to Orta were found on the gun.
We can only hope that Orta does not suffer physical and mental abuse while in the confines of a prison. He endured a short time in jail last year until a grassroots fundraising effort bailed him out, but while there Orta found rat poison in his food and refused to eat.
"My biggest fear about prison would be not coming out alive. I fear for myself being behind enemy lines," said Orta. "I'm going in there with a level head. I'm praying that I can come right out and continue my life as an activist."
We can’t help but be reminded of another police brutality activist – Sandra Bland – who mysteriously died in jail after being pulled over for improper lane usage.
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"We're feeling really upset," said Lisa Ricardo, Orta's aunt. "I would tell the police, don't touch him. Hands off Ramsey. Leave him alone in jail.”
Orta’s video of officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Eric Garner in a banned chokehold which brought him chest down on the ground and caused his death -- for the "crime" of selling loose cigarettes -- was one of the most disturbing, yet important, moments in police accountability. "I can’t breathe” were Garner's tragic last words.
The world watched as American cops singled out an innocent black man and murdered him in broad daylight on the streets of New York. Garner’s death and the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson woke up the nation to the problem of police brutality.
Ramsey Orta was instrumental in the movement, and now he will be shut away by the very same forces he fought to expose. The relentless pursuit of Orta by vengeful cops has finally come to an end.
“Orta said in July he was “tired of fighting” and would plead guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and criminal sale of a controlled substance.”
While Orta will be locked in a cage for four years for victimless crimes, the NYPD officer who murdered an innocent black man will be enjoying his freedom and his blue privilege.