By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. June 16, 2020: A Caribbean immigrant who was choked to death by cops in 1978, was remembered in Brooklyn, NY on Sunday.
Arthur Miller who was born in the Bahamas and moved to Brooklyn, NY in 1960, was killed on June 14, 1978 after an arresting NYC officer used a nightstick to choke him into submission. “Mr. Miller was the first ‘I can’t breathe’ in modern times,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was quoted by the New York Daily News as saying on Sunday. “If we had responded then, we’d be living in a different city and country today. A young child left without a father because the institution supposed to help and protect decided to hurt and murder.”
Miller, 30 at the time, was the caretaker of his building at 925 Prospect Place and owned his own construction company at 748 Nostrand Avenue. He also owned a number of beautiful antique cars and was the organizer of Four-Star Block Association in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
According to a New York Times report from 1978, two white cops, Anthony Curcio and Christopher Schiebel, were trying to serve a summons to Miller’s younger brother, Samuel, because of reports of debris that had piled up at a construction site the Millers were turning into a wedding hall.
A license check showed Samuel Miller was driving with a suspended license. He objected, however, saying he had paid his fines. The officers called for backup, and two more arrived to arrest him. When he fled, toppling a metal table in the process, about a dozen more cops rushed to the scene.
Miller’s other brothers, Arthur and Joseph, also came to the scene at one point, at Nostrand Ave. and Park Place, according to a congressional report. Arthur Miller had a licensed handgun at his waist.
In the ensuing chaos, police subdued and choked Arthur Miller. Witnesses said foam was coming from his mouth, and they could see his feet sticking out of a police car window as it drove off, the Times reported.
He died at the 77th Precinct stationhouse. Nine of the officers refused to speak with police investigators, the Times reported.
His murder ignited a community response led by two organizations — the Black United Front and the East, who organized a people’s patrol against local police. As a form of resistance dozens of disciplined members from the organizations stood outside of the 77th Precinct for weeks to simply say “No more!” One of the demands by organizers was the elimination of the chokehold responsible for Miller’s death. His killing prompted Reverend Herbert Daughtry, a neighborhood preacher, to found the Black United Front.
Though Miller’s death sparked protests and petitions, a grand jury refused to indict any of the officers involved.
A police ban on chokeholds in New York did not happen until last week, when in the wake of national protests over the choking to death of George Floyd and before him, Eric Gardner, New York finally moved to pass police reforms that included a ban on chokeholds.
Miller’s son, Lamor Miller Whitehead, said of the decades delay in passing a ban: “It’s ludicrous, ludicrous…it hurts.”