Rest In Peace Erica Garner
When her father was killed by Daniel Pantaleo, a white NYC police officer using an illegal choke hold, Erica Garner decided she’d had enough. She dedicated herself to the Black Lives Matter movement, becoming one of its most effective and beloved activists. Just 27 and a mother of 2, Erica died of a heart attack at the end of 2017. We mustn’t allow her cause to die with her.
In 2014 Erica’s father Eric Garner was stopped by the police on the suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Most Americans have seen the now infamous video of her father in a police chokehold repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe.
Pantaleo was never indicted by a grand jury and is currently an active NYPD officer. A civil settlement in the amount of $5.6 million was paid by the city to the family. But Erica couldn’t be silenced by money. She worked tirelessly for justice and will be remembered as a key figure in the ongoing civil rights movement.
Because her father’s final words were “I can’t breathe”, those words became the rallying at Black Lives Matter protests. Police accountability became Erica’s mission and she was never shy about criticising NYC mayor Bill De Blasio over policing policy.
Despite this, upon hearing of her death De Blasio issued this statement:
Erica pulled no punches when pressing prominent politicians, including Barack Obama, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and de Blasio for justice and accountability
Erica campaigned for Bernie Sanders and appeared in one of his campaign ads, and on December 28th he paid tribute to her writing:
Speaking to CNN's Don Lemon, Erica said that her father's death was as much, if not more, the result of police misconduct as of racism.
Several months after the death of her father, Erica staged a “die-in” on the corner where her father had been choked. In the years since, she continued her passionate activism by telling her father’s story in the media and at Black Lives Matter protests around the country.
Erica understood that participants in the civil rights movement must unify and resolve the fissures and conflicts between them:
Article by Anna Quick-Palmer