Firing of NYPD Cop Who Killed Eric Garner Is A Dream Deferred For His Late Daughter Erica
She was a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a warrior activist who through tragedy joined a fight to help to change and advocate against the now too common narrative of policy brutality.
Erica Garner tragically died of a heart attack in December 2017, three years after her father Eric Garner made headlines when he died from an illegal choke hold after resisting arrest by New York police. Up until the moment she passed away, Erica was a leader and an outspoken hero to countless others who lost their loved ones at the hands of police. She became a high-profile face for the Black Lives Matter movement, traveling the country and speaking out against the universal problem that affects everyone.
She organized “die-ins” in the very spot her father was killed, joined countless protests, and bravely spoke out against authoritative figures including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and then-President Barack Obama. All of this in an effort to pursue some form of justice for her father’s death.
She told the Guardian in 2015: “I believe in justice. I believe it’s going to take a long time but it’s gonna come. Change is gonna come.”
Now, a form of the justice she believed in occurred earlier this week when Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who placed her father in the chokehold, was finally fired from his position. Many have praised the NYPD for cutting the officer from the force, while other’s have lamented that it shouldn’t have taken five years for this to occur. Pantaleo’s firing is a small measure of justice for the Garner family, but losing a job is not the equivalent to losing a life.
For the eldest daughter of Eric Garner, Pantaleo’s firing is a dream deferred. She will never know that the man who took her father’s life has now lost his job partly as a result of her tireless work fighting against police brutality, which is unfortunate.
But since her untimely passing, her younger sister, Emerald Garner, stepped up to the plate to continue her sister’s fight.
Emerald, along with her grandmother Gwen Carr, are advocating for “The Eric Garner Law” which would finally solidify that chokeholds are illegal. Currently, chokeholds are banned by New York Police policy, however, not by New York law. If the “Eric Garner Law” is passed, it would make it a crime to be used by police in the state of New York.
If the law is passed, it would be a huge step in the right direction – meaning there would never be another Eric Garner and another family would not have to suffer.
There’s an old gospel hymnal that was sung weekly in my hometown church in Sacramento, California, and I’m sure it’s still sung in many Black American churches today.
“We are soldiers, in the army, we have to fight, although we have to cry. We have to hold up the bloodstained banner. We have to hold it up until we die.”
Emerald is a soldier in the army, fighting and holding up the bloodstained banner that her sister, Erica held up until she died. As black women, we are all soldiers in the army and we fight day in and day out, not just against police brutality, but against all of the ill wills we face daily in society. It’s my hope that we continue to rally and support the Garner family and continue to fight against what’s wrong in our society.
Afterall, Erica believed change would happen. It’s just a matter of when.