It’s been a year since Eric Garner passed away due to the hands of a police officer putting him into a chokehold. This incident was recorded on tape, and the video is a reminder that racism is still alive and well even in Tomkinsville, Staten Island.
Although the family won a settlement in their wrongful-death claim, it didn’t let us know about any change of police practices. The death of Garner helped to push police reforms, but has anything really changed?
Residents in town claim that officers have been nicer to them, but they have not changed the fact that people are still selling loose cigarettes and why. Edward Reed, a friend of Mr. Garner’s, said:
“Every time that man applied for a job, he was denied. That’s the type of thing I don’t think has changed.”
These last couple months have been focused on a bill called the Right to Know bill, which requires police officers to identify themselves during stops and to get consent to search individuals.
Mr. Garner’s widow has been talking to parents advising them to prepare their children for encounters with the police. Speaking recently to a class of aspiring school principals at Columbia University, Ms. Garner told them to make sure their students carried ID cards and a working phone just in case.
Although on Thursday Ms. Garner was preparing for an upcoming cruise to relieve some stress, she said she has a real focus. That focus is on renewing calls for the federal Justice Department to hold the officers involved in her husband’s death accountable. She went on to say:
“If they don’t prosecute the officers, the relationship with the police and the community won’t be repaired as easily as they hope.”