Monday, July 17 marked three years since the police killing of Eric Garner. Family members, activists and the community gathered for events.
Garner’s daughter Emerald joined former NBA player Etan Thomas and along with Rev. Al Sharpton and Michael Walrond for a memorial service and panel discussion on Monday at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.
The open panel allowed community members the opportunity to come together and discuss strategies to prevent the deaths of black people and people of color while in police custody.
A church service was held at New Hope Baptist Church in Elizabeth, N.J. on Sunday. Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, Sharpton, National Action Network New Jersey state organizer Rev. Steffie Bartley and several elected officials and activists attended.
Other mothers of Black men killed by police were at the service including Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo, Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham and Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell.
After the church service, the group gathered at Garner’s gravesite at Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, N.J.
Garner was killed by NYPD officers in 2014 on Staten Island during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in what appeared to be a prohibited chokehold, killing him. The incident was caught on cellphone video, on which Garner can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Garner’s death a homicide. However, Pantaleo was not indicted. The city settled with Garner’s family for nearly $6 million in 2015. Mass protests took place across the city and nation during the aftermath of the death.
Reports indicate that the United States Department of Justice’s investigation into Garner’s death remains open and can still bring a civil rights case.
Garners mother said in one interview that she won’t give up until justice is served.