Thousands gathered in Staten Island to honor the life of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old father of six who died after being placed in an illegal chokehold by NYPD. The march was attended by city activists and other public figures who are calling for justice on behalf of Garner’s family.
DNAInfo reported that over 3,000 demonstrators marched down Bay Street in the Tompkinsville section Saturday afternoon with appearances from Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, former Gov. David Paterson, and a handful of elected officials. The group marched from the spot Garner was approached for selling loose cigarettes and died to the 120th Precinct where the officers in the death are stationed.
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“We are not against the police. Most police do their jobs, but those that break the law must be held accountable,” Sharpton said. “We come to do the NYPD a favor. We’re trying to help you deal with the rotten apples.”
Family members called the show of support at the rally “overwhelming” and Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, said she hoped the officers who arrested her husband would be held accountable for his death.
“They did wrong and they need to pay for doing wrong,” she said.
Garner’s oldest daughter, Erica, said that she thought her father would have been proud to see so many people rallying to support him, carrying signs reading “Black lives matter” and “This stops today.”
“I know he’s looking down and thinking his voice is finally be heard,” she said. “People are standing up and speaking for him.”
Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by way of pressure to the neck due to the illegal chokehold use by officer Daniel Pantelo. Pantelo has since been suspended from the NYPD. It was announced last week that the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office will bring the case to trial in front of a grand jury.
Sharpton and others want the case heard on a larger scale, and have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the matter.