TheGrio spoke with Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner and grandmother of Erica Garner, on the red carpet at the NAACP Image Awards on Monday night.
After losing her son, Eric Garner, after he was killed by a policeman in 2014 and her granddaughter just weeks ago when she died of a heart attack on December 30, she has a message for people who have been moved by her family’s plight.
“People and families should stick together. You have to work together and you have to grow together. Anytime there are issues, we have to come together on them,” she said.
“We have to get out there and bring awareness to the people. A lot of people think our story is just a news clip but it’s our every day life. If people realize this and they get out and fight with us, which they can do in different ways, then we can bring about change and that’s what we need. We need new legislation. We need to change different parts of the law and in order to do any of this, you have to vote first.”
She also spoke candidly about the hard conversation black parents must have with their children in order to protect them from the kind of violence that claimed her own son’s life.
“It’s so hard as black mothers to have the conversation with our sons because we don’t have the same conversation that caucasians have with their sons and it’s so unfortunate. We have to tell them to be careful when they go out there and if the police stop you, make sure your hands are visible, don’t make any sudden moves,” she said through tears. “We shouldn’t have to do all of that. We have to frighten them before they even go outside and we have to start this at a very early age and it’s so heartbreaking.”
She also revealed that she has never seen the entire video of her son Eric Garner’s death at the hands of New York City police officers.
“Truthfully, I have never seen the footage in its entirety. Anytime that I see it I leave the room or I put my head down. I try to block it out because its like they are killing him over and over again. I just can’t bring myself to watch the whole thing,” she said. “It just breaks my heart to know my son is no longer with me. His death left such a void in my life and it’s heartbreaking.”