On July 17, 2014, New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo put Eric Garner in a chokehold that resulted in the 29-year-old man's death. In the coming 12 months, friends, family, advocates, and strangers would make sure that the country knew his name. People thousands of miles from Garner's Staten Island home marched and held signs that read, "I can't breathe." They took over Union Square, West Side Highway, Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center. On the one-year anniversary of Garner's death, the mourning is far from over.
It's one year later, but the community still hasn't gotten what it needs. Pantaleo did not receive indictment. Protests in the rain were met with arrests and harsh words from officers. And instances of police brutality continue to occur, with only a few cases becoming visible.
Investigations into what exactly happened that night in July 2014 continue to this day. The NYPD has taken Pantaleo's gun and given him a desk job, according to NY1. The Justice Department will decide whether he should face federal civil rights charges, and a state appeals court is considering the release of minutes from the grad jury's decision. NYPD officers are also guarding Panteleo's home.
The one thing the public still has control over is how to mourn the victim of the violence. Several events to honor Garner will occur throughout New York and the country. Here are a few ways to pay tribute to him on this solemn anniversary:
Attend A Memorial Service
Many churches and advocacy groups have been holding memorial services or candlelight vigils for Garner. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attended the church where the Garner family worships and expressed his commitment to change. Check the calendars for churches or other houses of worship in your area to see if they're hosting any kind of remembrance event.
Join A Rally
Most major cities have seen protests for victims such as Eric Garner and Mike Brown. Join one of the many protest groups or start your own that will demand change. Advocates will hold a New York rally on Saturday, but you can use Facebook, Meetup, or your nearest college or university events calendar to find one closest to you.
Donate To A Movement
There are plenty of great organizations that fight discrimination and racism. You could donate to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), the Anti-Racist Alliance, the Catalyst Project, or a local social justice group. Because the Garner family has received virtually no money from crowd-funding campaigns that have been set up in their honor, they encourage fundraisers not to give them money and perhaps instead donate to causes such as protesting Garner's death.
Do some research on victims of unjust police brutality in your state. It's a good idea to be aware of how your local government has allowed its police forces to behave. Make sure that the high-profile cases aren't the only ones we remember. Resources such as City-Data.com, Police State USA, and the Cato Institute have a lot of great information.
Write Your Congressperson
Never forget the power you have over your senators and representatives as a voter. Write a letter or start a petition to mail to your congressperson, asking for harsher treatment for police brutality and justice for the perpetrators of these crimes. The House of Representatives website can tell you who your representatives are and contains a directory with contact information. The Senate website contains a guide for how to contact a senator, a Senate committee, or a Senate committee chair. The Senate Judiciary Committee could be a good place to start. You can start a petition with sites such as Change.org, ThePetitionSite.com, or GoPetition.com.
Sometimes, you just can't stand to engage with the ignorant person on social media or in your friend circle. However, some people just don't have all the facts or have been swayed by what they've been told. Try intelligently presenting the information to someone who might listen, write to your local newspaper if they're not covering certain events, and fight to educate your classmates or coworkers.
Be An Ally And Advocate
The most important thing you can do to honor a man you probably never met is to be an ally and an advocate for those who face unjust violence. No matter where you live or what you look like, you should care about this issue. Even though it's been a year since Garner said he couldn't breathe, a whole community is still choking.
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