A Staten Island man used a local dunk contest to honor Eric Garner, who died earlier this month after he was put in a chokehold by the NYPD.
The Under The Lights basketball tournament was held Friday in Dongan Hills, and event founder Joel Soto reached out to local police who were patrolling the area to see if they would be willing to help out during the dunk competition.
Following approval from commanding officers, cops parked their squad car under the net, and, much like Blake Griffin’s famous dunk over a car, participant Brian Hogan-Gary jumped over the car and slammed the ball. Officers turned the lights on and blared their siren, while the crowd went wild.
Shortly before the dunk, the 20-year-old took off his jersey, revealing his undershirt that read: “R.I.P. Eric Garner.”
“People were really surprised the cops wanted to be a part of it,” Soto told Staten Island Live. “It definitely brought down a little of the tension between police and the community.”
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 26, 2014
Eric Garner’s death while in police custody was caught on video by onlookers. In an attempt to arrest the Staten Island resident for selling untaxed cirgarettes, a NYPD officer used a chokehold on Garner shortly before he appears unresponsive in the video.
Multiple rallies and vigils have been held in the wake of Garner’s July 17 death. Two of Garner’s six children, his teenage sons, are members of the basketball league but were not present for the tournament.
“Everyone really respects Garner here and feels for him … he was part of the Under The Lights family,” Soto told SI Live.
Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals.