Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Relatives, Community Leaders Gather to Remember Eric Garner

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As friends and family remembered the Staten Island man who died in police custody last Thursday, Reverend Al Sharpton called for a federal investigation. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

Hundreds of people packed the Bethel Baptist church to say goodbye to Eric Garner.

The 43-year-old leaves behind a wife, six children and two grandchildren.

"My father never missed a birthday. The only thing my daughter asked for was for Poppa to bring the cake. I don't know how to explain to her this year papa is not to bring the cake," one family member said.

Garner died Thursday after police tried to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

Cell phone video obtained by the Daily News appears to show one officer putting the 43-year-old in a choke hold as Garner complained of being unable to breath.

"A man in your arms saying I can't breath—when does your decency kick in?" asked Reverend Al Sharpton.

Sharpton brought mourners to their feet as he criticized the police commissioner's plan to re-train the entire force.

"You don't need no cultural orientation to stop choking a man that say 'I can't breathe.' You need to be prosecuted," Sharpton said.

Two officers are on desk duty, while the Staten Island District Attorney's office conducts a criminal investigation.

While the congregation embraced the family, religious leaders called for unity of purpose and peace.

"We cannot allow our righteous indignation to be reduced to senseless violence because violence begets violence. What we need to do is to put on our marching shoes. We are going to continue to march until justice rolls down like water," said Bishop Victor Brown of Mt. Sinai United Christian Church.

Local Politicians were here as well Religious leaders say they will hold elected leaders accountable to the change they say is needed—and they will do so with their votes.

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