Activist Erica Garner has died, after suffering brain damage following a heart attack. She was 27 years old. Erica entered the public’s eye following the murder of her father by the chokehold issued by New York City Police officer Daniel Pantaleo during an arrest of Eric for selling “loose” cigarettes, which are tax free single cigarettes. Eric Garner was seen on video saying, “I can’t breathe” 11 times before he died. When approached by plainclothed police Eric said before his eventually murder by NYPD:
“Get away [garbled] for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me [garbled] selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone.”
Erica had become a prominent figure in the fight against police brutality in the following years since her fathers murder by police, in which no indictment came though an out of court settlement did eventually come to path. The coroner’s report lists his death as a homicide, but no officer has ever been charged in the case. Using her late father’s last words became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. She began staging weekly “die-ins” on the sidewalk in front of a beauty supply store in Staten Island, the site where the New York City police officer put her father in the fatal chokehold. Erica Garner had been in a coma since Dec. 23, when she had an asthma attack that triggered a heart attack, according to the New York Daily News.
“When her son was born in August, she named her newborn after her father,” the newspaper reports. “Garner suffered her first heart attack shortly after the delivery, with doctors saying the pregnancy stressed her already enlarged heart.”
We lose a wonderful person and a strong activist in Erica. We are deeply saddened and hope the rest of the Garner family, as well as Erica’s child, can live in peace as we continue fighting for Eric and many like him. Rest in Peace Erica. Your father and you will carry on in the fight against systemic racism/classism and police brutality.