Eric Garner Memorial Burned Down on MLK Day

By Chris Hoenig


On July 17, one bleak moment in the fight for civil rights occurred on Bay Street in Staten Island.

On a day to celebrate civil rights, another bleak moment happened in the same spot.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Monday—Martin Luther King Jr. Day—the FDNY responded to the memorial at the spot Eric Garner was killed after a report of a “rubbish fire.” The memorial was destroyed.

Erica Garner, the slain man’s daughter, said that she had stopped by the memorial earlier in the day. She tweeted that she believes vandals were to blame, and vowed to rebuild.

The NYPD, however, said it doesn’t believe any criminality occurred at the scene and that a candle accidentally fell over and burned down the memorial.

Rallies protesting the NYPD, police brutality and racial profiling have exploded across the city, and around the country, since Garner was put in a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo last summer, repeatedly stating “I can’t breathe” as he collapsed to the ground and died.

They only grew stronger after a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s support of the #ICantBreathe and #BlackLivesMatter protests has led to a fractured relationship with the NYPD. Officers turned their back on him several times following the assassination of two NYPD patrolmen, gunned down in their car by a man claiming to avenge the deaths of Garner and Michael Brown, and have drastically reduced their ticketing as part of a citywide slowdown.

A report earlier this month by the NYC Department of Investigation and the NYPD’s Office of the Inspector General revealed that chokeholds by officers routinely go unpunished.

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