A week ago, you brave women dared to interrupt Seattle's so-called progressive Democrats in order to bring visibility to an element clearly underrepresented there: Black Lives. Unfortunately, the moment you decided to do so, you entered a space where few good Negros dare to venture. You dared to take a stand against systemic white supremacy. A complex so ingrained in our culture that disrupting it, however slightly, caused the good Seattle lefties to call for you two to be arrested and tased. I heard the booing offered up instead of the moment of silence you requested in of honor Mike Brown. They may have tried to silence your voices, but by taking the brave measures you took, you have joined some of the most admirable company this world has to offer, the company of the vocal Black activist.
Now, as you've probably already recognized, your names are being smeared. That comes as no surprise, as it is only the next step in the campaign to silence our voices. I have already heard you described as radicals to be feared and even as Tea Party Republicans. They have called me everything except a child of God, so don't let it get to you. You can expect for moles to pop up at your community meetings. People were sent to disrupt my weekly marches on Staten Island and turn to me against my allies. All of this is part of the white backlash that ensues when you decide not to suffer silently. So I encourage you two to be strong because you are in good company.
Last Sunday, on the anniversary of Mike Brown's death, the Staten Island Yankees (owned by the New York Yankees) held a "Blue Lives Matter" event. This took place less than a mile from where a Staten Island police officer took my father's life. Staten Island, at times, can have worse race relations than the Deep South. It is home to a large number of NYPD officers, and so they have a lot of power there. It is an island that is divided into North and South by a highway, which some refer to as the Mason Dixon line. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and other police organizations have been routinely disrespectful to my family, my father's memory and me. Just look at some of the things they have said in the press. All of this happens in liberal N.Y.C., so I know exactly what you felt as you stood tall in the face of racism.
They killed my dad. They covered it up. They hid grand-jury records. They gave District Attorney Daniel Donovan a promotion to Congress and are about to hand the D.A. seat back to the Republicans, all over my father's dead body. The Democrats there are basically Republicans -- members of the Independent Democratic Caucus vote with Republicans, but need to have a "D" by their names to fool low-information voters (Blacks and Latinos) who just vote Democrat out of blind loyalty.
Blacks and Latinos on the North Shore of Staten Island are largely left unconsidered in terms of policy. There is an election for D.A. right now on Staten Island, and a Republican chairs the Democrat campaign! No wonder there is not as much as a peep about calling a new grand jury or justice in my father's case. The Democrat, Michael McMahon, does say that he would not make grand jury records public; he also vaguely mentions that, "There are some changes to the law that could be made, and that is something that should be discussed in Albany with the legislature and the Governor and the State Association of District Attorneys."
The "liberal Democrats" there allow this game to be played at the expense of Blacks and Latinos. It's not hard to see that Black lives are political pawns on Staten Island, and not much more. So, on behalf of Eric Garner and my family -- thank you. The work that you are doing will help to ensure that no matter which Democrat gets nominated, Black lives are now on the table. We need more of you, especially on Staten Island.
I was recently in Ferguson to support Lesley McSpadden and Mike Brown Sr., the parents of Mike Brown, and stood beside the senior Brown when declared that he would never stop fighting. I rode through Ferguson, and again I saw a town divided into separate and unequal spaces -- legally. I thought, what if the feds investigated Staten Island police the same way that they did in Ferguson? What would they expose?
I saw drones and battle tanks; I could very well have been in a war zone. I guess, in a sense, I was. I was in a space where large groups of Black lives were gathered in a system that is designed to respond to Black lives with violence. I know that I speak for Ms. McSpadden and Mr. Brown Sr. when I tell you to never stop fighting, and that we are grateful.
You women were bold enough to stand up to white supremacy in a state that counts Rachael Dolezal among its most acceptable Black activists. So don't feel bad that you made a few folks uncomfortable. You don't just identify as Black -- you are actually Black. You cried on stage because as Black women, you have it harder than anyone, and to have your cry for humanity received that way must have been heartbreaking. White "liberal" Seattle told you and the world what they think about our crisis.
In my opinion, you have helped achieve the most robust Black platforms proposed by a presidential candidate that I've seen in my life, and that includes those of a Black president. Other activists are marching through the South, singing, praying and suffering silently. Meanwhile, the city they are head-quartered in is divided by a highway, like Ferguson and Staten Island, and is thoroughly steeped in a history of legal oppression against Black lives. You continue to be daring because if you are quiet about you pain, they will kill you and say you deserved it.
Continue to be bold. Continue to be unapologetic. You stand in the footsteps of Fannie Lou Hamer, Angela Davis and Sandra Bland. When you were on that stage, you were in good company because all Black lives were up there with you too. Thank you from the Garners.