AFRICANGLOBE – Tears, songs and sermons filled a Brooklyn church Wednesday as grief-stricken family and friends, along with politicians and civil rights leaders, said final goodbyes to Eric Garner, who was choked to death on a city street by the NYPD.
Garner’s teenage daughter brought sobs from the crowd as she sang Mariah Carey’s ballad “Hero” to her father, followed by an emotional gospel tune from his 90-year-old aunt.
His wife, Esaw Garner, and their children arrived in a stretch limo about 5:30 p.m.. Eric Garner’s mother traveled behind them in her own stretch limo.
Simple floral arrangements surrounded the casket, including one in the shape of a crucifix on the right and a wreath on the left. At the foot of his coffin was a bouquet with a gold ribbon around it reading, “Beloved Brother.”
Inside the stifling church, filled to capacity on a sticky, hot summer night, Eric Garner lay in a white coffin inscribed with the words: “Eric Garner, in God’s Care.”
He was dressed in a white silk suit with a silk turquoise shirt.
Among those who came to pay their respects was Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo, who was fatally shot 19 times by cops in the Bronx 1999, he was unarmed.
“It’s just so sad. It brings back terrible memories. After all these cases and all these years, nothing seems to change,” she said.
“It should never have happened, it should have been prevented,” she added of Eric Garner’s death.
“I’m calling on the new administration, Mayor de Blasio and (Police) Commissioner (Bill) Bratton, to bring about changes,” Diallo said.
Esaw Garner and two of her sons entered Bethel Baptist Church in Boerum Hill wearing white slacks and turquoise silk shirts that matched those Garner wore in his casket.
The grieving woman had to be helped to the altar to take a last look at her beloved spouse. She collapsed clutching the dead man’s body.
“My God, they took him. They took my baby. They took my baby,” she sobbed.
Family members carried her to the front pew, where she was able to nod and shake hands as she received a steady stream of condolences.
“I’m going to miss him so much,” she said, fanning herself in the sweltering heat. “He cared for everybody. He didn’t deserve this.`
“He was supposed to be my rock,” she said breaking down.
“But now he is gone. He will never answer my call. I just want to cry,” she said, slumping into the arms of Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mom.
“My son, my son, I love him so,” Carr said.
Eric Garner, 43, was killed last Thursday as cops tried to cuff him on a Staten Island sidewalk.
A cell phone recording captured the asthmatic father of six repeating the words: “I can’t breathe!”
One cop can be seen strangling Eric Garner, a move prohibited by the NYPD.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke at Eric Garner’s funeral, brought mourners to their feet when he announced that he and the family will meet with Justice Department attorneys Friday.
“This is how we get action. We can’t live in the a city where they can choke us out and it’s not a big thing,” Sharpton thundered from the pulpit, to wild cheers.
“You don’t need retraining, you don’t need sensitizing,” Sharpton said, referring to Bratton’s decision to retrain all his officers in use of force practices.
“There is a difference this time, this time there’s a video. You can’t tell no lies this time,” Sharpton said, calling Raymond Ortiz, who captured Garner’s death on a cell phone, to the front of the room for a round of applause.
The medical examiner’s office hasn’t yet determined a cause of death for Eric Garner, but a preliminary investigation found no clear signs of asphyxiation, police sources claim.
“Every time you see me you want to mess with me,” Eric Garner told the cops. “I’m tired of it. It stops today.”
By: Kerry Burke, Ginger Adams Otis