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Henican: Seeing is believing, as shown in Eric Garner case

Erin Garner is shown in this undated family

Erin Garner is shown in this undated family file photo provided by the National Action Network on Saturday, July 19, 2014. Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS / Uncredited

Seeing is believing -- or so we've always been told. But that moldy old canard has never been half as true than it is right now.

Thousands took to the streets of Staten Island Saturday to protest the death of Eric Garner -- the videotaped death of Eric Garner. The adjective is crucial. Had a bystander not whipped out a smartphone, tapped the camera icon and began to roll, it's hard to imagine that the death of a 350-pound, alleged street-corner loosie-salesman would have caused such a national police-brutality uproar.

But all of it was caught on video, right down to the dying man's plaintive cries: "I can't breathe . . . I can't breathe. I can't breathe."

It isn't that every controversy now arrives on digital video. It's that the ones that don't are open to endless interpretation, right down to the most basic disputed facts. See Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri. The media-centric demo-riots outside St. Louis generated their own handy slogan on Day 1: "Hands up, don't shoot." But a week and a half in, there is still no generally accepted street-level narrative.

Who was standing where? Who confronted whom? How close was the range of fire?

The autopsy and forensics are helpful. But without a video of the crucial encounter, the clash of eyewitness testimony and preconceived beliefs rumbles ever on.

"No justice, no peace," the ralliers have been chanting in Staten Island and Ferguson.

They may have to change that soon: "No video, no peace."




1. Light

2. Speed

3. Camera

4. Action

5. Convict


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They abandoned us all those decades ago, and we've never gotten over it. What do the New York(!) Jets see in the swamps of Jersey anyway? Who knows? But despite the ancient hard feelings, the die-hard fans -- 11,000 of them -- still turned out cheerily for Jets Family Night at James Shuart Stadium across Hempstead Turnpike from what was once known as Weeb Ewbank Hall. If you need explanations for those locations, you're no history-minded Jets fan. Mad they left, happy they're back (if only briefly), life goes on.

Follow on Twitter @Henican

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