Freedom Fighter Erica Garner Passes

By Free Radical

Erica Garner

Erica Garner

Erica Garner, who after her father Eric Garner was killed by New York City police officers, became an outspoken opponent of police brutality, passed on December 30.

According to her mother, Esaw Snipes, Erica Garner’s asthma triggered a major heart attack on December 24. She was subsequently placed in a medically induced coma but showed little to no signs of progress.

Her father, Eric Garner was unarmed when he was choked to death in 2014 by New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo despite repeatedly saying, “I Can’t Breathe.” Pantaleo was not charged or even indicted even though the submission maneuver he used was outlawed and no immediate medical attention was given to Garner.

The lack of justice given to her father inspired Erica to become a leader in the Black Lives Matter Movement. She staged weekly die-ins at the Staten Island corner where her father was killed. Journalist Shuan King, who befriended Garner, described her on Twitter, “She was a fierce protector of her friends and family. A truth teller. As genuine and authentic of a soul you’ll ever encounter.” Her truth telling at times was raw as she confronted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and then President Barack Obama about their tepid response to police brutality.

Garner also became an example of the emotional toll activism, and what some have alleged harassment by the NYPD, can have on those who oppose the status quo. Shortly after giving birth to a son in August, Erica suffered her first heart attack.

In an interview, earlier in December, she admitted, “I’m struggling right now with the stress and everything. This thing, it beats you down. The system beats you down to where you can’t win.”

Garner’s example shows the necessity of not only resistance, but also self-care when engaging with oppressive forces. Her story also demonstrates the importance of mass mobilization as more hands make the load lighter of those on the front line of struggle.

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