Hundreds Turn Out to Honor Erica Garner, Tireless Fighter Against Police Murder

January 9, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


Hundreds filled the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem on Monday night to pay tribute to Erica Garner, who died on December 30 as the result of a heart attack. She was only 27 years old.

Erica was the daughter of Eric Garner who was murdered on Staten Island by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in July 2014, as he gasped 11 times, “I can’t breathe,” as the pig refused to ease his chokehold. Erica weathered the devastation of seeing her father so publicly and so cruelly murdered to become a tireless, implacable fighter for justice for her father and for stopping police murder.

At the funeral, people described her as a relentless, courageous “warrior” who protested twice a week every week on Staten Island demanding her father’s murderers be indicted—even after a Staten Island Grand Jury refused to bring charges. They spoke of how they’d been challenged and inspired by her example. “The rest of us now have to carry forward her legacy,” one minister said, and then to loud applause, “and any time someone’s killed by police, Erica will be whispering in our ear, ‘shut it down!’”

Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, who was murdered by Ferguson, Missouri police in 2014, was in attendance, as were other families of victims of police killings. The actor and rapper Common said Erica’s passion “inspired me to go harder… She told me we’re going to keep fighting… and that’s what I’m telling everybody.”

Erica’s mother, Esaw Garner, said, “She was only 4 pounds 11 ounces [at birth] but she proved to be a giant in what she did in her life. As many times as I tried to deter her from going out there marching for her dad in the cold, by herself, whatever. And she’d say ‘mom, I‘m going to do it, and I don’t care if I go to jail…’ She refused to let anybody including myself tell her what to do. She might consider what you said but she was going to do what she wanted to do anyway… and I was proud of the woman she became… The day she shut down the Verrazano Bridge [connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn] I think was the biggest day because she did it by herself. Eight lanes of traffic, she ran back and forth across that bridge, laid down across that street and screamed, ‘I can’t breathe!’”

It wasn’t mentioned Monday night, but Erica wasn’t afraid to call out anyone who stood in the way of justice. After being barred from speaking at Obama’s 2016 townhall on police murder she tweeted: “Yo this town hall that presidential town hall #abc arranged is a farce. It was nothing short of full exploitation of Black pain and grief.” She also condemned Hillary Clinton’s campaign after its internal debates were revealed: “I’m troubled by the revelation that you and this campaign actually discussed ‘using’ Eric Garner … Why would you want to ‘use my dad?’”

Protest in Memory of Eric and Erica Garner—from Harlem to Staten Island

Following Erica Garner’s funeral, some 60-80 people gathered in remembrance of Erica Garner and her father and all victims of police murder and terror and in support of #BlackLivesMatter. The action was called by #PeoplesMonday, and NYC Shut It Down. People rallied at nearby 116th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard for a “mic check” speak out. The song, “I Can’t Breathe,” inspired by Eric Garner’s murder and popularized by actor Samuel L. Jackson, was a key refrain:

I can hear my neighbor crying “I can’t breathe”
Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave
Calling out the violence of the racist police
“We ain’t gonna stop, till people are free”

Afterward, many got on the subway and headed south. After a boisterous ride, in a subway car packed with chanting protesters, people got on the Staten Island ferry, and then marched through Staten Island to the site where Eric Garner was murdered and then to the police precinct where Eric Garner’s killer works.

Outrageously, to this day, the U.S. Department of Justice has refused to bring civil rights charges against Eric Garner’s murderers, and the NYPD refuses to act until the DOJ does. In the face of this, and all the screaming outrages being heaped on oppressed people under the Trump/Pence fascist regime, Erica Garner’s courage, defiance, and determination are needed more than ever.


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