A crowd gathered on Staten Island earlier at the same location where 43-year-old father Eric Garner was killed exactly one year ago today.
Wearing shirts that read “A Year Without Justice” and “Black Lives Matter,” Garner’s family members, along with dozens of others, assembled to watch Garner’s one-year-old daughter, Legacy, and her mother, Jewel, release a dove in Garner’s honor.
“I wanted something that represented purity,” Jewel said to the Wall Street Journal. “Eric was a gentle giant, and the dove is a symbol of peace.”
Garner was killed last year after he was approached by NYPD officers on suspicion of selling illegal cigarettes. As the officers attempted to arrest him, Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in an illegal chokehold, which was captured on witness video. Garner, who was asthmatic, told officers 11 times that he couldn’t breathe, but Panteleo refused to loosen his grip. Garner was pronounced dead a shortly after the altercation. His death was ruled a homicide.
Since Garner’s death, thousands of people across the country have been protesting and demanding justice. In December, a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, who has since been demoted to desk duty. Last week, New York City reached a $5.9 million unlawful death settlement with Garner’s family.
Still, family members and others are asking that justice be served.
“I’m still very disheartened that there’s been no justice,” Danielle Yhap, a demonstrator who was present at the ceremony, told the Journal. “So today is about being supportive for the baby, Legacy, and Jewel and showing respect for the anniversary.”
Garner’s stepfather, Ben Carr, told the New York Times that since his stepson’s death, some positive trends had emerged.
“They got new officers on the beat, and they’re doing a beautiful job,” he said, commending the officers who had been assigned to the neighborhood.
In addition to the morning ceremony, various protests and vigils are planned throughout New York City today. City assemblyman Michael Blake is leading a demonstration outside of his office in the Bronx, and on Saturday, Rev. Al Sharpton is hosting a protest outside of a Brooklyn courthouse to demand federal involvement in the case.