Erica Garner, who became an activist after her father was killed by NYPD cops, dies following heart attack

Erica Garner leading a march of people on December 11 2014, protesting the Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, who murdered her father Eric Garner in July (Andrew Burton/Getty)

After suffering brain damage following a heart attack, 27-year-old activist Erica Garner has died.

Her official Twitter account announced her death Saturday morning.

She became a prominent activist in July 2014 when her father, Eric Garner, was killed by New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who choked Garner for selling cigarettes. Eric Garner was seen on video refusing to be harassed anymore, before saying, “I can’t breathe” 11 times as Pantaleo choked him to death.

Erica Garner had been in a coma since Dec. 23, when she had an asthma attack that triggered a heart attack, according to the New York Daily News.

“When her son was born in August, she named her newborn after her father,” the newspaper reports. “Garner suffered her first heart attack shortly after the delivery, with doctors saying the pregnancy stressed her already enlarged heart.”

However, as some have explained, Erica Garner also suffered from trauma and chronic stress from the racist police violence that her father suffered. Racism, as scientists have explained time and time again, is not simply verbal abuse but a system that deprives and harms people of colour (notably Black people) day in day out, and has severe consequences on their health.

In 2016, Erica Garner endorsed Bernie Sanders for president and was the focus of a video campaign for the candidate. NPR reports that she supported the Vermont senator because of his record of standing with black people.

“He’s been, basically, a protester his whole career,” she said. “He’s not scared to go up against the systematic racism that exists in America today.”

In the Bernie Sanders video, Garner explained why she became an activist.

“I’m just trying to get the truth out there to tell his side of the story,” she said of her late father, Eric Garner. “He was being a loving, caring man that he was, and he was murdered. For a whole year, I’ve protested every Tuesday and Thursday. I feel like a representative for people throughout this whole nation because I’m doing this, I’m speaking out, me being his daughter. And that’s what I want to do, I just want to tell my truths.”


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Ambar Iqbal

Ambar is a Politics student at Kings College London. Her goal is to bring awareness to the important stories around the world, especially the ones that go unheard. She's appeared on the BBC, and is passionately involved with community organisation back home in Staffordshire.

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