Erica Garner

Erica Garner has been declared brain dead. Her family is praying for a recovery.

Almost as soon as Black Lives Matter started to become a real political force, as its “die ins” were being staged all over the US and attracted protestors of all races, the Democratic party moved in to leash and collar the budding movement by co-opting it at the national level. Die ins stopped. People from professional activist backgrounds suddenly appeared in leadership roles.

Erica Garner also protested against police brutality against blacks. She never became part of the Black Lives Matter power structure and instead operated as an independent voice. The minimal mention of Erica’s condition on the Black Lives Matter Twitter feed, and in the Democratic centrist mainstream, is telling, and says everything you need to know about what the co-opted Black Lives Matter has become, which is a pallid, gentrified shadow of its former self.

Erica was determined, authentic, fearless, and raw. Her voice was not domesticated by media training and messaging. She did not aspire to celebrity status. She spoke clearly and directly about injustice, struggle, and hope.

From D. Watkins at Salon:

I met Erica Garner in 2016 at a town hall held by Barack Obama and ABC News in Washington, D.C. We were both upset by some of the remarks made by the then-president, specifically regarding how he spoke about police violence, and I was even more upset that she didn’t get a chance to speak. Her dad’s death had focused international attention on the issue of police brutality against black Americans, and she had traveled all the way from New York to D.C. because she was promised a chance to address the president. Garner stormed out of the room, letting everyone have it, including the Secret Service. Ultimately, she was given the opportunity to speak with Obama and told him how she really felt. She didn’t kiss up to him or beg to take a picture with him because he was the first black president; she gave him the hard facts about what black people were really going through all over the country at the time, and challenged him to do something about her father’s death.

We traveled back to train station together, talking about the town hall, police violence and the problems with modern activism. Erica gets it; she’s extremely intelligent, funny, raw and understands these issues. I’m sorry that the death of her father brought her into activism, but I am blessed to have had the chance to meet her. Many were put off by her actions at the town hall, but I was inspired. She is the type of leader we need in our communities, in government and representing us in the media: A person who bathes in honesty and is not scared to speak truth to power, who will call B.S. when she sees it, even at the highest level.

UserFriendly sent this podcast from the Katie Halper show, which may be the last interview Erica gave:

While we know that Erica Garner is not dead, it is almost certain that her voice is lost. That is not just a tragedy but a disgrace. An activist who sometimes found it hard to come up with Metrocard fare so she could participate in protests was almost certainly short-changed by our money-driven medical system. It may be that “I can’t breathe” will come to be not just a reminder of how police brutalize African Americans, but how they are also mistreated by the health care system.

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