Erica Garner, the daughter of police-brutality victim Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after a New York City police officer restrained him using an illegal choke hold, passed away Saturday morning at the age of 27. Her official email account confirmed the news.
Erica, a mother of two, had been fighting for her life ever since suffering a heart attack that was brought on by an asthma attack on Christmas Eve, which left her in critical condition. She sustained major brain damage due to lack of oxygen and had been in a coma ever since.
It was her second heart attack.
Back in August of this year, Erica gave birth to her second child, a son, whom she named Eric after her father. It was after baby Eric’s birth that the activist suffered her first heart attack. It was then that doctors discovered that she had an enlarged heart.
“She was a warrior, she was a fighter and we didn’t pull the plug on her,” Esaw Snipes-Garner, Erica’s mother, said, according to the New York Daily News. “She left on her own terms.”
Erica Garner was indeed a force to be reckoned with, occupying space and speaking out loudly against police brutality ever since her father’s July 2014 death. She was unafraid, unabashed and unapologetic about what it was she was fighting for.
Mere months after her father’s death, Erica staged a “die-in” at the very same location in Staten Island where he had the confrontation with police that led to his death, even as he pleaded with New York City police officers, “I can’t breathe.”
Eric Garner’s last words became the rallying cry for a movement as protests swept the entire nation. His death was followed weeks later by Michael Brown’s killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., the catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In July 2016, two years after her father’s death, Erica took on President Barack Obama and ABC News during a presidential town hall that the network was hosting.
The activist got up and left the taping of the event after she said she had been “railroaded” by the network and denied the opportunity to ask the president a question, an opportunity that she said she had been promised.
Erica said that she had an agreement that she would be able to ask Obama about the Justice Department’s investigation into her father’s death, only to be blindsided.
The mother of two was particularly frustrated as she cleared time to go to Washington, D.C., even as she was planning an event for the then-two-year anniversary of her father’s death.
Two months after taking that stand, she called out New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after the mayor claimed that he was barred from releasing the records of her father’s killer, Daniel Pantaleo, citing an archaic law that has been ignored for the past 30 years as the reason he could not do so.
“Just cause you love Black pussy don’t mean you love Black lives… cc @BilldeBlasio,” Garner wrote on Twitter, pointing out that de Blasio, a white man, is married to a black woman and raising a black son but still couldn’t give a damn about state-sanctioned killings.
“The thing that kills me is that De Blasio is raising a Black man ... This is the example ... My dad lays down and rolls over for white supremacy,” she tweeted.
During the 2016 presidential election, she was an outspoken supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, with Sanders’ presidential campaign releasing a stirring video, featuring Erica somberly speaking about being a mother and activist.
Her light, her will to fight and outspokenness and her truth shone brightly in the face of oppression and sometimes outright dismissal. In her passing, this world has lost more than could possibly be recognized.
Our thoughts go out to her entire family at this incredibly difficult time.
Rest in power, Erica.