“I can’t breathe” was the rallying cry heard around the world. And though Eric Garner’s life was silenced after he uttered them, his mother, Gwenn Carr is making sure to use her voice to advocate on behalf of her son for better policing practices for America’s armed law enforcement. On Thursday, the outspoken matriarch sat before the House Judiciary Committee and recalled her son’s death, more than five years after Daniel Pantaleo cut it short.
“Five years ago, my beloved son Eric was murdered by people who were supposed to serve and protect,” Carr told the committee.
Just last month, Pantaleo was fired from the Police Department by Commissioner James P. O’Neill who said at the time that the former cop “can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.” He also added, “The unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own.”
Though Pantaleo was dismissed from duty, Carr questioned on Thursday, why he nor any of the other officers involved with her son’s death faced any charges. In August a police administrative judge found him guilty of violating the department’s chokehold band, but Attorney General William Barr did not bring criminal charges.
Carr also used her time to urge Congress to support Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-NY) Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act. The bill, which was first introduced in 2015, outlaws chokeholds under federal law. It will be re-introduced to Congress this year with Eric Garner’s name attached to it.
The recent widow who says Garner’s death contributed to her own husband and grandaughter’s death, was joined by civil rights activist Al Sharpton. On Thursday before the hearing, he tweeted, “For too long communities across the country have lived under the weight of discriminatory policing and we’re calling for a transformation of our policing and criminal justice systems.”