Nearly six years after Eric Garner uttered his last words, “I can’t breathe,” after being choked to death by New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, his words have come back to stun America after George Floyd died saying the same three words. Hearing those words all over again for Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, was daunting.
In a recent interview with NBC News, Carr said, “It was déjà vu all over again. It’s like a reoccurring nightmare.”
In response to the video of Floyd, “I don’t see any justification,” she said. “To put your knee on someone’s neck, you are obstructing their breathing. That is completely a no-no.”
In July of 2014, Garner was recorded on the cell phone video camera of a bystander who documented his encounter with NYPD. During his last moments, he said, “I can’t breathe” 11 times as he was in a chokehold. Garner’s death sparked national unrest and outrage as protestors took to the streets. His last words went on to become chants at rallies around the world and the sentiments of how black people feel living under oppression in America.
Garner’s death was a part of what some considered to be a Red Summer.
Right after he lost his life, John Crawford was killed in Beavercreek, Ohio on August 5. Michael Brown Jr was killed in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. Ezell Ford was gunned down in Los Angeles on August 11. And, Dante Parker was slain in Victorville, California, on Aug.12.
As history repeats itself and people take to the streets, it is the hope of many that Floyd’s death and the civil unrest will prompt the justice system and the nation to change.
Carr’s hope is that Floyd’s family receives justice more expeditiously than she and her family did for Garner.