Tributes Light Up Twitter After Death Of Activist Erica Garner

“She cared when most people wouldn’t have. She was good. She only pursued right, no matter what.”

Erica Garner, an activist and the eldest daughter of police brutality victim Eric Garner, died on December 30 after suffering cardiac arrest earlier in the week. She was 27 years old.

Erica's mother, Esaw Snipes, told CNN her daughter suffered from an enlarged heart. "She was a fighter, she was a warrior, and she lost the battle," Snipes said. "She never recovered from when her father died. She is in a better place."

Erica's father, Eric Garner, died in July 2014 at the hands of a New York City police officer. As documented in a video taken at the scene, Pantaleo attempted to arrest the 43-year-old for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally in Staten Island and put him into a chokehold. Eric was pronounced dead later that day, his reported last words being "I can't breathe!" That phrase became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement as cases of police brutality became national news.

In the wake of Erica's death, tributes to her compassion, altruism, and activism have poured in. 

"When you report this you remember she was human: mother, daughter, sister, aunt," Erica's family tweeted via her Twitter account. "Her heart was bigger than the world. It really, really was. She cared when most people wouldn't have. She was good. She only pursued right, no matter what. No one gave her justice."

"When you were her friend, you [were] her friend through all adversity," civil rights activist Shaun King said on Twitter. "She was a fierce protector of her friends and family. A truth teller. As genuine and authentic of a soul you'll ever encounter. We're less because of this loss."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, for whom Erica campaigned during his 2016 presidential campaign, also commented on her life's work. "Though Erica didn't ask to be an activist, she responded to the personal tragedy of seeing her father die while being arrested in New York City by becoming a leading proponent for criminal justice reform and for an end to police brutality," he tweeted. "I had the honor of getting to know Erica, and I was inspired by the commitment she made working towards a more just world for her children and future generations. She was a fighter for justice and will not be forgotten."

Speaking at a National Action Network meeting on December 30, Rev. Al Sharpton said Erica's heart was "already broken when she couldn't get justice for her father," CNN reports.

"Her heart was attacked by a system that would choke her dad and not hold accountable those that did it," he added. "If anything she would want us to do in memory of her is keep fighting for justice and keep fighting for families."

Saeed Jones, poet and author of the upcoming book How We Fight For Our Lives, said his mother died the same way Erica did. "My thoughts are with her family and black women everywhere literally having their hearts broken from the exhaustion of just trying to live in this country," he tweeted.

And in a statement, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People praised Erica for "[taking] a stand when so many others sat" and "leading the charge when so many others faded into the background."


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