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Posted under: Opinion News

September 15: Why Eric Garner’s Birthday Should Be A Holiday To Fight For Police Reform

“I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry that epitomized protests against unjust police violence.

By Scott Roberts, Senior Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns for Color Of Change

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Eric Garner would have been 50-years-old this year had he not been horrendously killed in a deadly chokehold by multiple police officers. His last plea for help, “I can’t breathe,” became a national rallying cry that has epitomized protests against unjust police violence. Six years after his murder, George Floyd, Daniel Prude, Javier Ambler, Manuel Ellis and Elijah McClain repeated the same words — “I can’t breathe” — before police mercilessly killed them in different states across the country. And we’re still left demanding accountability for Eric Garner’s murderer, former NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who has yet to be charged or even arrested for killing a human being in cold blood.

Take immediate action: Demand charges and arrests of the officers who murdered Daniel Prude. #DemandJusticeForDaniel

Fight for Systemic Justice: Demand the city of Rochester change its response procedure for mental health crises so that trained medical and mental health professionals respond to crises, not cops.

Black people who have been murdered by the police are so much more than their names — they lived full lives that deserve proper recognition, honor and commemoration. So we’re standing with Eric Garner’s mother in calling for his birthday to become a holiday in New York.

September 15 will be Eric Garner Day — a chance to memorialize this wonderful father’s death, remember those who have been murdered by the police, and reflect on how they’ve impacted the lives and our communities as we re-commit to fight for to Black freedom, justice and liberation.

Join Eric Garner’s Mother, Gwen Carr: Sign the petition demanding the New York City Council make September 15th Eric Garner Day.

Too many birthdays are now defined by brutal police violence. Elected officials and local prosecutors have the power to hold officers responsible, yet many fail to intervene or put pressure on police departments to even complete investigations.

The recent murders of Daniel Prude, Dijon Kizzee, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and countless others remind us that police officers perpetrate violence with impunity despite laws. There aren’t a few bad apples, the entire criminal justice system is rotten — fueled by racism and white supremacy.

Policing does not keep us safe, nor lead to thriving communities. It is a violent institution that must end. But we have the power to create systems that do. We need more investments in schools, jobs, affordable housing, parks, mental health services, community centers and libraries — while divesting from and dismantling the systems that unjustly harm Black people. That means defunding the police and police unions. Justice cannot wait any longer. We must continue to organize, protest and commit to tearing down the systems and institutions that kill and brutalize our communities. 

Take Action with Color Of Change: Help Color Of Change call for elected officials to defund the police and invest in community-based alternatives.

We will mobilize our pain into power, and are envisioning a world where we don’t need Black people to continuously be killed by police to hear from the rest of the world that Black lives matter. We will look to Eric Garner’s birthday every year and elevate his name throughout history as one of many lost lives that propelled the world to organize for systemic change.

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