Skip to content

It's Far Too Simple to Dismiss Staten Island for 'Being Staten Island'

Understanding the history of New York’s "forgotten borough" puts the Eric Garner case in an important context: suburbia.
relates to It's Far Too Simple to Dismiss Staten Island for 'Being Staten Island'

Last Wednesday, after a Staten Island grand jury decided against indicting police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the killing of Eric Garner, a quote from the August 8 edition of the New York Times quickly resurfaced. In the piece, which was written almost a month after Garner’s July 17 death, right around when legal proceedings were getting underway, the Times had spoken to Joel Berger, a New York City civil rights lawyer. Berger explained that the criminal justice system is often ill-equipped to handle questions of police brutality. This is, the Times wrote, “particularly true in places like Staten Island, where support for the police is so strong.”

Staten Island being Staten Island? The Washington Post ran this quote before digging into the data on New York City’s “forgotten borough,” which indeed confirmed that Staten Island is one of the metro’s whitest and most conservative regions. “The pro-police stats that show why Eric Garner’s killer got away with it,” ran a headline on Daily Dot that also used the quote. Berger’s prescience got some attention on social media, as well: