Stevie Wonder Addresses Eric Garner, Michael Brown Verdicts - Rolling Stone
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Stevie Wonder on Eric Garner Verdict: ‘I Heard Him Say, ‘I Can’t Breathe”

“I don’t understand why there could not have been a public trial where we would be able to hear all sides to the story,” singer says at Seattle concert

Stevie Wonder expressed dismay with the two grand juries that both controversially decided not to indict police officers in the separate deaths of unarmed citizens Eric Garner and Michael Brown. “Can you believe that within one month two grand juries…declined to indict two policemen for killing of two black men?” he told the audience at a Seattle concert (via the Hollywood Reporter). “I just don’t understand that.”

Wonder also voiced his opposition to the way in which grand jury proceedings are kept secret. “I don’t understand why our legal system would choose secrecy when there’s so much mistrust,” he said. “I don’t understand why there could not have been a public trial where we would be able to hear all sides to the story. I just don’t understand.

“I’ll tell you what I do understand: I heard Eric Garner say with my own ears, ‘I can’t breathe,'” he continued. “And, as much as [Officer Daniel Pantaleo] has apologized, I don’t understand why he did not stop.”

This past September, Wonder told ABC News that he felt Mayor James Knowles of Ferguson, Missouri — the city where Brown died — had “blinders on,” after Knowles dismissed the idea that there was a “racial divide” in the town.

The singer told the concertgoers that he sincerely loved every one of them, “no matter what our ethnicities are,” and that he had to express how he really felt. He concluded his thoughts, which led to a performance of his 1973 single “Living for the City,” by speaking to another controversial issue. “My feeling is guns are too accessible to everybody,” he said. “I do understand that something is wrong, real wrong. We, as family Americans of all colors, need to fix it with a quickness, real soon…. This is why this song unfortunately is still relevant today.”

Wonder is currently at the end of a tour on which he’s playing his 1976 album, Songs in the Keys of Life, in its entirety. Last month, the singer was honored for his contributions to songwriting at an awards gala held by ASCAP. “All of us here, let’s continue to write,” he told his fellow songwriters at the event. “Let’s continue to encourage and inspire, because without writing, the world will lose its magic because the world will lose its love.”

In This Article: Stevie Wonder


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