Angry residents, politicians and activists rallied on Staten Island Saturday, protesting the death of local resident Eric Garner during an NYPD confrontation.
The group met outside the Tompkinsville shop where the altercation happened before marching to the nearby 120th police precinct, chanting, “Whose island? Our island!”
“I just wanna say one thing,” a woman holding a bullhorn outside the precinct said. “What is happening to that cop? We need some answers!” (The officers involved have been placed on desk duty pending further investigation).
Watch Activist Pinky The Poet recite a poem at the rally here:
‘Y’all killed a legend!” another protestor yelled to the stone-faced officers standing outside the building. “Y’all ain’t kill no average man!”
Another speaker claimed he witnessed the officers impeding efforts to revive Garner. “I was in the fu**in ambulance!” Twan yelled. “You didn’t let them [paramedics] do their “fu**in job!”
About 20 minutes after the group arrived, they were joined by an even larger congregation, carrying a large banner with Eric’s name on it. The crowd soon made their presence known, filling up the steps to the precinct and ignoring officers’ commands to move.
Watch more protesters arrive here:
Referencing the number of times Garner complained of breathing problems during the incident, the group repeatedly chanted “Twelve times! I can’t breathe!”
“This struggle has only begun!” said Reverend Herbert Daughtry, founder of the African People’s Christian Organization. “They ain’t seen nothing yet!”
“We’re here for all of those who’ve been killed by the police!”
“My father did not deserve this,” said Emerald Garner (pictured far right in bottom picture), one of Garner’s children, who also remarked that her child will miss her “pop-pop.”
“My father took care of his kids.”
“This just shows how much he was loved,” said Gwen Carr (pictured center in bottom picture),” Garner’s mother, about the large turnout. “This is the most horrible feeling that a mother, a father, a son, a wife [can feel]. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!”
“But thank you so much. You are just so tremendous-all of you.”
Garner was confronted by five officers in the area Thursday, alleging he’d been selling untaxed cigarettes and affecting local merchants. Video of the encounter shows one of the officers wrapping his forearm around Garner’s neck, eventually locking him in a chokehold and bringing him to the ground.
Seconds later, the 6-foot-4, 400-pound asthmatic Garner is repeatedly heard saying, “I can’t breathe.” He soon becomes motionless and was later declared dead at a local hospital, having gone into cardiac arrest. According to witnesses, Garner had just broken up a fight and was not selling anything.
“Members of the NYPD will NOT use chokeholds,” the NYPD patrol guide states. “A chokehold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing to reduce intakes of air.”
Commissioner Bratton, speaking with Mayor DeBlasio about the tragedy at a Friday news conference, said the Staten Island District Attorney and police internal affairs would determine if any laws or departmental procedures were broken.