Erica, O Erica

Think of Erica Garner
fighting for her father
fighting for us all
impassioned, articulate, persistent
protest in pursuit of prosecution,
turning the terrible grief of unjust murder
into a profound scythe cutting cutting cutting 
through the pause, the postponed,
the stall, the shilly shallying
the equivocation the dilly dallying vacillation
failures and falters finding no fault
postponed delayed denied

parsed procrastination defying the proof before our eyes
all who could, hear and might know and feel the theft
of her father’s life too soon too soon way too soon 
and she carrying their generations within
as she carried this dismantling loss 
as she carried our dismay and dysfunction
as she carried what burdens we might imagine
and those we can’t poor, pregnant, bereft on fire

grief upon unmitigated grief for cause without
cause for no good reason never good and never reason
for the unreasoning unreasonable and the unpunished
theft of life what she carried was too much
was unrelieved by result or circumstance 
was unlifted unremediated unhealed
what followed  egregious as what preceded

another father said I can’t breath 
another black man by another grocery store
another held in fond affection by his many
another murdered by police
in broad clear, documented daylight
another begged for air, for life

we are left again
in stunned disbelief

even as witnesses begged for the dying man’s release
even as onlookers expressed dismay

other officers abet the murder
one kneels on the prone man’s throat

as before for your father
a uniformed gang attacked
aided and abetted the theft of breath
the cessation of being for
reasons unexplored unexamined
unquestioned unprosecuted for 6 years

after and we see it again and again
and you Erica died too were killed
too were undone by the burden
of pursuing parity, acknowledgement
of the wrong done of the murder
of the loss endless piercing

gratitude for witness in recordings
proof of unreasoning savagery
dressed in the clothes of protection

Erica, maybe this time
a daughter won’t die
awaiting justice for her father

Erica Garner-Snipes[1] (May 29, 1990 – December 30, 2017) starting a month after her father, Eric Garner’s death after a NYC cop placed him in a chokehold in 2014 and for the following year, led twice-weekly marches visiting the scene of her father’s death, visits which the media labeled a “die-in” She created a foundation in her father’s namE, the Garner Way Foundation, to “engage communities all over the world in social justice issues through political awareness, music, arts and activism.” Garner campaigned to have the transcripts of the grand jury into her father’s death made public.

“None of the New York officers involved in Mr. Garner’s death have been charged with a crime or disciplined by the Police Department. That fact has enraged the Garner family and various advocacy groups devoted to holding the police accountable for abuses of power.” NYT 2019

A Thousand Tiny Murders