Calls for Social Justice on Anniversary of Eric Garner’s Death

Little Legacy Garner being held by her mother before she released a carrier pigeon. (Photo by Joaquín Botero via El Diario)

Little Legacy Garner being held by her mother before she released a carrier pigeon. (Photo by Joaquín Botero via El Diario)

One year ago, when her father, Eric Garner, died during a chokehold applied by a police officer in front of 202 Bay Street on Staten Island, Legacy Garner had not been born yet. Today, a year after Garner’s death, her mother, Jewel Miller, took her to the place where it happened. There they opened a birdcage and released a carrier pigeon with a simple message: “I can’t breathe.”

Nearly 30 people, many of them wearing white T-shirts, turned up to accompany the mother and daughter. No one else from the Garner family attended. Legacy is Garner’s sixth child.

“There is no peace, even after the compensation. There is much justice to be done on Staten Island,” said Miller, who was Garner’s girlfriend, to El Diario.

Alan Fudger, 53, brought his pigeon named Samson from New Jersey, where it would return. He owns 40 carrier pigeons that he releases at events such as memorials, funerals and weddings. When the Garner family contacted him, he said that it would be an honor to participate.

“Police officers are heroes, but no one should have died that day,” said Fudger.

José Mejía, a 20-year-old Mexican who has lived in Port Richmond for the last 18 years, criticized Staten Island’s justice system. An activist for the pacifist organization Eye Openers for Youth Against Violence, he is a “Dreamer” and studies nursing thanks to a grant. “But I want to be a lawyer after that, so I can help people like these.”

Another person attending, 40-year-old nurse Kim Taylor, lives in Manhattan and came by before starting her shift. “I like to come to events that have social significance. I am sad that none of the officers went to jail for the brutality; neither the one who choked him nor the others who stood by and did nothing.”

Joshua López, 36, the nephew of John Collado, a man who was shot dead in Upper Manhattan in 2011, was also at the event. According to Collado’s family and lawyer, the victim was trying to break a fight between a neighbor and an unidentified man, who ended up being Detective James Connolly.

A federal investigation is underway. His widow, Amarilis Collado, recently spoke to the Daily News and questioned the reason why Connolly was by himself that day, when he was supposed to be working undercover. Moreover, Collado asked why the detective was working that day, when he had been involved in another shooting the day before. Connolly was released without charges on both occasions.

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