The death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD police shocked the nation and spawned the BLM rallying cry “I can’t breathe.” Garner’s death, along with a tragic list of other Blacks who’ve been killed by officers, was one of the reasons that President Barack Obama hosted a town hall meeting entitled “The President and the People.” The event focused on race relations and community policing but gave no policy initiatives from the executive branch. President Obama took questions from the audience that included students, police officers and community leaders. But one person who was invited to the event was Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner.
Erica Garner became emotional when she learned that she would not have a chance to ask a question of President Obama or participate in the live discussion. According to multiple witnesses, she was heard in a backstage area using profanity and calling the event a shame. Garner stated she staged her one woman walkout in frustration not just for being unable to speak with the president;but also because of the recent police shootings in the news.
She posted the following on her Twitter page Official ERICA GARNER @es_snipes:
“I need all of you to know that this #ABC town hall that will air at 8pm is a sham. They shut out ALL real and hard questions.”
“They lied to me and my family to get us to travel to DC to participate. Taking time away from things I had planned to remember my father.”
“Waste of time. I’m trying to plan a march and these folk want me to tap dance”
It was apparent that President Obama was made aware of Garner’s feelings and he met with her privately after the live event ended. She later posted a video where she states, “It’s a shame that us Black people have to yell and be belligerent in order for our voices to be heard. ABC is using Black Lives as ratings and to get paid they guaranteed me that I would be asking the President direct questions about what’s going on. I was lied too.”
Obama is later seen in the video engaging with Garner. President Obama stated to Garner, “I promise that people are hearing you. I wouldn’t be spending all this time here if I wasn’t concerned about it. But I have to make sure we don’t get in a situation that there’s a perception that, in any way these investigations are being influenced. I just wanted to say that respectfully, but I am sorry for your loss.”
Garner stated, “I do have one question. What are you going to do about the 1033 program?” To which President Obama responded, “We have already impacted it and reformed it and we will provide you information on that.”
For Erica Garner and others, the President’s words fell far short of what they wanted to hear that night on the status of race relations and on presidential support for police.