Staten Island to Stonewall—WE CAN'T BREATHE!


July 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Jonathan Sanders
Jonathan Sanders

On July 8, 2015, a Black 39-year-old horse trainer named Jonathan Sanders drove a horse and buggy down a rural Stonewall, Mississippi1 street. That night Jonathan decided to take his horse, Diva, out to exercise. Since it was dark outside, Jonathan wore a light attached to his head, similar to the type of light a miner might wear. In this part of the country, it is common for people to take their horses out at night after the intense heat of the day dissipates. Around 10:30 that night, Jonathan rode past the Cefco gas station, where he saw a white cop talking to a man that he knew outside. The cop was Officer Kevin Herrington. As Sanders passed, he called out to Herrington, "Why don't you just leave him alone?" Herrington, enraged that someone might suggest for him to refrain from harassing someone, turned toward his patrol car and said, "I'm going to get that nigger." He got in his patrol car with his wife, who was riding along with him, and started to follow Sanders.

Herrington followed Jonathan down the twisting, wooded roads. After taking several turns, it is possible that Jonathan did not even realize the cop was following him. Suddenly, Herrington turned on his blue lights, frightening Sander's horse, causing it to buck wildly. In the chaos, Jonathan was thrown from the buggy.

Although shaken from the fall, Jonathan did not want to lose his horse in the dark woods. Instinctively, he ran to catch the fleeing horse. He didn't even notice the cop sprinting toward him from behind. As Jonathan ran, the light that he was wearing on his forehead slipped down around his neck. Officer Herrington reached for the light's strap hanging around Jonathan's neck, grabbed it and jerked him to the ground.

Jonathan Sander's last words ring familiar..."I can't breathe." While Jonathan lay face down with his hands under his body, the ruthless cop kneeled over him, choking him for nearly half an hour, as he struggled to eke out the words, "I can't...breathe..." Many people witnessed this happening. Some described a woman that was not an officer (Herrington's wife) present during the incident. They said that Herrington was telling the woman with him to remove his gun from its holster so that Sanders could not reach it; however, she could not un-holster his gun. Eventually one of the witnesses was able to tell her how to remove it. However, the witnesses still say that Sanders never posed a threat to Herrington. Herrington could not remove the gun himself without relenting his chokehold around Sanders' neck.

One witness was so terrified by what they saw, they retrieved a can of Mace from their home, but decided out of fear not to intervene. Another witness went to get an oxygen mask to help Sanders, but Herrington would not allow anyone to perform CPR. He continued to choke Jonathan Sanders instead. In the 30 minutes it took for more police and an ambulance to arrive, Keith Herrington succeeded what he had set out to do when he said, "I'm going to get that nigger." Without mercy, he murdered Jonathan Sanders.

The Sanders' family's lawyer described the autopsy report: "The preliminary autopsy in the death of Jonathan Sanders determined that the cause of death was manual asphyxiation... the manner of death was homicide."

Wait! Stop for a second! This story is eerily familiar....

Today is July 17. One year ago today, Eric Garner was choked to death by the NYPD after telling the cops to stop harassing him. He said, "This stops today!" then the vicious pigs tackled him to the ground. One pig wrapped his arm around Garner's neck. Gasping for air, Eric cried out 11 times, "I can't breathe..." and then he died. It was ruled a homicide. None of the cops have been charged with any crime!

THIS MUST STOP! From the city streets of Staten Island to rural Mississippi, men and women (let us not ignore the death of Sandra Bland, who died in police custody this week in Texas) disproportionately Black and Latino are being murdered at the hands of the police. Almost one year ago, just a few weeks after Eric Garner's murder in New York, shots rang out in Ferguson, Missouri. We all know what happened. After Mike Brown's death at the hands of Pig Darren Wilson, a movement came to life. The people of Ferguson rose up and they did not back down, and for a few short months in this country, Black Lives Mattered. There has been beautiful resistance over the past year, but things have grown far too quiet and the police have not backed down, they are still murdering and brutalizing our people with impunity and that MUST STOP!

People should be standing up and resisting the horrible crimes against the people wherever and whenever they take place. And right NOW people around the country should know about and begin preparing for #RiseUpOctober. We need to shift the climate in this country in a big way. The level of resistance needs to go above and beyond anything we have seen so far. As Carl Dix recently said:

We have to draw a huge dividing line in society over these outrages and challenge people with the question: Which side are you on? There is no room for neutrality here. There is no middle ground. You are either standing with the people who are acting to STOP these attacks or you are OK with racists in and out of uniform murdering Black people. We have to turn society upside down over this by mobilizing a huge march in New York City to STOP police terror.

Police Murder Must Stop Today! We don't have to live this way!
Let's get to work on #RiseUpOctober right now!

See you in the streets,
A member of the Atlanta Revolution Club


1. Stonewall, Mississippi is small town in Eastern Mississippi with a population of just over 1,000. It is named after the Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson. [back]





Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta