See What Eric Garner’s Family Has to Say a Year After His Death

He begged police for his life. Now his family is asking for reform and justice.
Jul 17, 2015·
John Walsh is an editorial intern at TakePart.

When she thinks of her father’s painfully famous last words, Erica Garner sometimes thinks about how hard it can be for her to take a breath sometimes, because of her asthma. She’s thought twice about seeking help.

“The fact that he was crying out that he can’t breathe,” says Erica, who has been campaigning to stop police brutality since her father’s death, in this video from AJ Plus. “For a while, in the beginning, when I used to have asthma attacks, I was afraid to call the hospital or afraid to call the EMS workers because I thought they would figure out who I am and not help me.”

To capture how their lives have changed in the year since Eric Garner’s death—a year marked by protests declaring that black lives matter—AJ Plus interviewed members of the Garner family. The father of six from Staten Island died because he had long sold loose cigarettes to support his family. One day before he left for work, he had a conversation with his wife, Esaw, not unlike most days.

“He said, 'What are you cooking?,' and I said, 'Pork chops and rice and beans,' and he says, 'Oh, that sounds good,' and I says, 'Anything sounds good to you, fat boy,' ” Esaw says in the video. “And I said, 'Love you.' And he said, 'Right back at you.' And he drove off. That was the last thing he said to me. 'Right back at you.' ”

The past year has become a whirlwind of activism for the Garner family, who attend and speak at rallies and candlelight vigils in commemoration of other victims of police violence. Though the family arranged a $5.9 million settlement with the city, Erica says, “No amount of money is going to heal our pain, so we just search and search for justice.”