Thousands of protesters marched together on Saturday on Staten Island in the memory of Eric Garner, who lost is life a month ago after being held in a chokehold by a New York City police officer.
Rev. Al Sharpton noted that if a police officer is able to do this to one citizen, he can do it to any other person he encounters and warned authorities that protesters would not remain silent in the face of such mistreatment.
Eric Garner had been arrested by a police officer on the suspicion that he had been selling untaxed cigarettes. As the police officer was restraining him, witnesses filmed the events on their cellphones. The video recordings from cellphones have Eric Garner (a 350 pound man) urging the police officer to loosen his grip and saying that he can’t breathe.
The medical examiner that inspected Garner’s body ruled the death a homicide.
Staten Island residents were extremely concerned with the outcome of the protest, especially because of the many similarities that the Garner case has with the Michael Brown shooting and the protests in Ferguson connected to it. Both Garner and Brown were African American and both police officers where white.
While the march on Saturday was considered peaceful, many residents insisted that there was no guarantee that all participants would act sensibly.
Rev. Sharpton urged participants to remember that the march should be a peaceful event that should only help the family that is going through this ordeal see justice be awarded. Eva Garner, Eric Garner’s widow also called for a peaceful march.
Gwen Carr, Eric’s mother, also addressed protesters and expressed her gratitude for their involvement. She said that the Staten Island march and all those who are standing at their side fill her heart with joy and show that Eric didn’t die in vain.
David Paterson, former New York Gov. spoke about other incidents concerning altercations with the police in New York City. He addressed several names, from the 10-year old Clifford Glover (the boy who was shot by a New York Police officer in the back in 1973) to Eric Garner. Paterson noted that the march would be meant for all of them.
On Thursday, Garner’s family together with Rev. Sharpton met with local U.S. attorneys to discuss possible federal interventions as well as additional investigations into Garner’s death.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who performed the chokehold, is currently on desk duty alongside another officer, Justin D’Amico, until the situation is cleared.