Emerald Snipes-Garner, 26, Eric Garner’s youngest daughter, is picking up the baton of justice with a ferocious determination to not only guarantee that New York Police Officer Pantaleo is fired but that there is lasting change nationwide.

On Friday, a New York judge made the recommendation that the officer involved in killing Eric Garner, 43, in 2014 be fired from the New York Police Department. The recommendation comes on the heels of the July 16 decision not to press federal charges against Pantaleo, the man responsible for Garner’s untimely death. 

In the wake of the announcement for the recommendation, Snipes-Garner rallied Saturday morning in Harlem at the National Action Network’s headquarters. 

The building was filled with shouts of praise and welcoming smiles as community activists, city council members and spiritual leaders called for justice to be served. 

Snipes-Garner is here every Saturday, joined by NAN founder Rev. Al Sharpton and droves of supportive NAN members committed to social action. 

As children scurried through the aisles of burgundy seats that filled the “House of Justice” and more people trickled in, Snipes-Garner gave a speech assuring the crowd that if Pantaleo is not fired, New York would see its biggest march yet. 

Snipes-Garner stood in front of nearly 150 people in a black printed tee-shirt with a picture of Pantaleo with the word “murderer” written across his face. 

“A lot of people don’t know what Pantaleo looks like, because he’s been in hiding. And I would like for people to know that they’re walking and standing with a murderer,” she said. 

“The police department has been protecting a murderer for the past five years,” Snipes-Garner said to the crowd. “Daniel Pantaleo you’re living. You’re here. Your family can see you. I will never see my father again. I will never see my sister again. And you, I’m coming for you.” 

It’s been two years since Erica Garner, Snipes-Garner’s sister, lost her life in the midst of fighting against the people and systems that allowed her father to die five years ago. 

Last month, Attorney General William Barr’s decision not to pursue charges shook the country just one day before the five year anniversary of Garner’s death. When the ruling was announced Snipes-Garner rushed out of the courthouse with a message:

“I’m going to stand outside and I’m going to scream it. Daniel Pantaleo needs to be fired. He needs to be fired … five years later and there’s still no justice,” she said to the crowd gathered outside of the courthouse.

Snipes-Garner told ESSENCE that she has felt like a ticking time bomb for the last few years and the DOJ’s decision was the last straw. 

“I kept everything in over the past five years,” she said. “I was just in that room and I was so bottled up and utilized my freedom of speech to go say what I needed to say.”

Since that decision, Snipes-Garner has worked tirelessly to make sure that the city and Pantaleo are held accountable. 

Pantaleo was suspended after the judge recommended that he be fired. He will go without pay for a month, according to Time Magazine.

Commissioner O’Neill is the only person who can decide to fire the officer or not. According to New York Daily News, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the police have 10 business days to review the judge’s recommendation before the file goes to O’Neill for his final verdict.

Snipes-Garner started a petition with Change.org calling for the city to fire Pantaleo with the original goal of 100,000 signatures. Now sitting at 129,109 signatures, she has plans to deliver the petition to New York Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill next week. 

In addition to the petition, she is keeping the flame lit by urging lawmakers to enact the Eric Garner Law.  The proposed law would make chokeholds and any constrictions to someone’s breathing illegal nationwide. 

“It’s important for us to pass the Eric Garner Law,” Snipes-Garner told ESSENCE. “So, if something does happen, and an unarmed civilian is killed by a chokehold, they will be held accountable.”

Snipes-Garner is fearlessly taking on the powers that be while raising her sister’s two children and her own child. Although she has experienced great loss, she intends to keep using her voice to fight for justice for many years to come.

For now, she asks that those who have shown support continue to show up and show out.

“Please support the family and when we call you guys to action, we expect to see you there,” she said. “We expect to see everyone who’s been standing with us for the past five years. Stand with us now.”

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