January 3, 2018
The fight for social justice suffered a great blow on Dec. 30 with the death of Erica Garner (1990-2017). Garner became an outspoken anti-police brutality activist after her father, Eric Garner, an unarmed African American man, died after a confrontation with the police. Ever since his death, Erica and her family began to organize a fight for justice not only for her father but also for African-Americans, Latinos and poor people in general who face police violence on a daily basis in these United States of America.
Erica Garner’s activist work kept her father’s death alive in the spotlight. Despite many pitfalls, Erica remained optimistic. Matt Taibbi writes, “Throughout it all, she remained focused on what she saw as the last realistic shot at justice for her father, the possibility of a federal civil rights prosecution. Through December there continued to be rumors about a federal grand jury that was still taking witness statements in the case. Erica had been led to expect news on that front, one way or the other, by the New Year.
Erica Garner left an important legacy, a legacy that will push others to continue fighting for justice. Shaun King, her friend and comrade in struggle remembered her fondly: “[Erica] spoke of truth to power as a daily discipline and refused to suffer fools gladly.” Here is Erica Garner in her own words:
On the meaning of justice:
Justice means equity to us.
Justice for us is our teachers being equipped with the things they need to be successful with our youth and that the communities which have the most catching up to do get the most effective teachers. It means that we teach our kids a full and complete history about who we are as a country, where we all come from, and what we were all doing before we got here.
On how the system works:
The system beats you down to where you can’t win.
Black Lives Matter:
The Black Lives Matter movement [has] been very compassionate, patient, and basically begging the nation. You know, we are under attack as black people. We are being gunned down every day. And these officers are not being held accountable. And no charges, from Tamir Rice to my dad to Freddie Gray, you know, has been.
On funding and activism:
Conflict can destroy movements. The need for funding turns allies into competitors scrambling for the spotlight. Media-ordained spokespeople co-opt the work of grassroots leaders. From tactical differences to infiltrator sabotage, internal struggles plague social change work – present movements against police brutality included.
On Bernie Sanders:
People are quick to say that Bernie Sanders just appeared out of thin air, but that is nonsense. He was a young protestor in 1960s Chicago, standing with Black people for equal housing rights. Yes, he is a White man, but he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
On the fight against police brutality and racism:
I'm in this fight forever. And no matter how long it takes - 20 years from now, I - we deserve justice. And I want to get justice for other people. And I want other families, you know, to know like it's hard, but you got to keep on. You got to keep the name out there because people will forget.