Sometimes you have to admit when you’re wrong.
For instance, I was always puzzled why people felt the need to defend monuments to the dead, such as Confederate monuments, as if history could be confined to a slab of stone or a sliver of real estate. Aside from the obvious racial implications, I thought those people were stupid to place sentiment in memorials to the fallen even though there are books, television clips and newspaper articles that better tell the story.
But when the New York Daily News reported that angry residents of a Staten Island neighborhood chased a film crew away from the site where Eric Garner’s life was stolen from his body by the muscular forearms of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, I finally understood.
On Thursday, a film crew was filming a scene for The Fifth Boro, a television pilot about a corrupt Staten Island cop (which, according to “Blue Lives Matter” is a totally fictional scenario). The scene featured two white police officers, played by James Russo and Anthony Mangano, wrestling a black suspect, portrayed by actor Mark John Jefferies, to the ground.
“We were literally about to roll and one of them threw a bottle in my direction,” Jefferies told the Daily News, adding that the bottle-tosser yelled: “If you don’t like it, you can get the fuck out of here.”
After the confrontation, director and former NYPD officer Steve Stanulis packed up his film crew and left, saying, “Everyone was fine, but there were a couple malcontents.”
Stanulis said he chose the Bay Street location in Tompkinsville for its “shady vibe” and was apparently unaware he was filming a fictional case of police brutality at the exact spot of one of the world’s most notorious cases of police brutality, where Eric Garner was killed in 2014 when Pantaleo wrapped Garner’s neck in a chokehold that had been outlawed by the police department.
I was wrong.
I still can’t comprehend why anyone would want to turn a white supremacist into a hero, but I understand why people would be sensitive about certain places. I bet there are people in Staten Island who think of Eric Garner as a martyr and a symbol of their fight against a country who wanted to strip them of their rights. I’m sure there are cops who feel about black lives the same way I feel about monuments to the Confederacy—they don’t give a fuck about them.
If a director wanted to film a scene where a sniper shot someone on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel or a grown man with a gun chased a teenage boy through a certain neighborhood in Sanford, Fla., I’d think they were insensitive, to say the least, and probably out of their goddamned minds.
While I don’t condone violence, if a couple of local “malcontents” who remembered the trauma inflicted on the neighborhood and the victim’s family told the film crew to “get the fuck out of here” and to respect their memories, I could only offer the cosplaying perpetrators one piece of advice: