“My name is Emerald Snipes-Garner and I am the daughter of Eric Garner. I served as a Youth Co-Chair for the ‘Justice for All March’ in Washington, DC on Saturday, December 13th; along with Mary Pat Hector, the National Youth Move Director for NAN and Leighton Watson, the President of Howard University Student Association. As the Youth Co-Chairs of the march, we were asked to decide the youth leaders who would speak and were part of the program ourselves. Since the march on Saturday, I was appalled to hear about the many rumors and accusations about the program and the lack of youth voices. I want to say all of the statements about youth being excluded are nonsense. No one but the Youth Co-Chairs decided the youth speakers – WE DID. After wrestling with whether there would be a program and getting confirmation that there would be less than 48 hours before, we each said who should speak.

When my father first passed away, my family called Reverend Sharpton and National Action Network (NAN) to get involved in what we thought to be an injustice. The local Staten Island Chapter of NAN stepped in, and then the national leadership got involved and organized demonstrations, including a mass demonstration on Staten Island weeks after his passing. They have been involved with helping my family and me during the many months it took for the grand jury to come back and decide not to indict the officers involved in my father’s death. In those months, I became immersed in the organization and the broader fight for justice. There is nothing more grassroots than the NAN Saturday action rally in Harlem, NY, that my family and I have been attending every week. My mom often refers to the rally as her spiritual fuel, like church it has really kept us engaged and involved. The people of NAN uplift, encourage, and support us to keep going and stay in the fight for justice for my dad. There is a youth group called the “Huddle” founded by Rev. Sharpton’s daughter Ashley, that meet every Monday and deals with youth empowerment. In the Huddle, we discuss everything and deal with the issues young people face. It is an outlet to express ourselves about any and every thing, but also to receive input, advice, and education on these issues. I have taken my 2-year-old daughter Kaylee every week there and I have grown and been able to become more involved with NAN and the great work that they do.

People are welcomed to join National Action Network, and get involved with the work and action to really push for change. I have been so inspired to encourage not only youth but EVERYONE to join and be a part of NAN. I will not stand by while others make claims that aren’t true. Why interfere with what we do? I will tell anyone who is not focused on changing the agenda and addressing the issues to please stop bringing in your poison and negative talk about an organization and its leadership that has done nothing but STAND behind and beside my family and myself since this whole ordeal happened. This is an organization that I have become involved in and that has encouraged me to get involved in the fight for justice. That’s what this should all be about. Justice! We want Justice for Eric Garner. If you don’t want justice, that’s fine, you are still loved, admired, and respected. But DON’T pimp my father in the name of justice!”

-Emerald Snipes-Garner, Daughter of Eric Garner

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