Widow Esaw Garner asked at a press conference last week "Who's going to play Santa Claus for my grandchildren?" Now, it's looking like the Internet will. As people across the country protested a grand jury's decision not to indict in the Eric Garner case, supporters set up online fundraisers to help his six children and two grandkids. Donors had raised about $37,000 on various sites as of Monday morning.
Garner, an unarmed black 43-year-old, died in July after white police officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold banned by the New York Police Department. A Staten Island grand jury announced Wednesday Pantaleo would not face charges. Thousands of people protested, but other activists grabbed their keyboards.
One of Garner's daughters, Emerald Snipes, created the official Indiegogo fund for his kids on Sunday. In 24 hours, about 100 people had given more than $4,000. The campaign was gaining notoriety Monday as the link circulated on social media, with stars like folk singer Kimya Dawson tweeting it to thousands of followers.
The Eric Garner Family Support Fund group set up an account on Fundly, where it collected nearly $25,000 from 700 people. "This is a simple support fund to help the bereaved family of Eric Garner," the page read. "Let's help them focus on what's important by easing their financial burdens."
On GoFundMe, the Charlotte Activist Collective started a page titled "Support For Esaw Garner." It raised $7,000 and promised the account was locked. "No one in the CAC can access this money," it wrote. "There will be no withdrawals or removals except by one person: Esaw Garner."
A separate GoFundMe account had $1,445 toward its $5,000 goal Monday. Creator Shant'a Briggs-Sawyer, a New Jersey lawyer, also reassured donors that every penny collected would be delivered to Garner's widow. About 3o people donated and posted messages of support. "You are not alone," wrote supporter Katherine DeCarlo. "The world is watching and sending you and your family strength. Our hearts are breaking with yours."
With the holidays approaching, protesters also put together an event for Garner's family. The North Americans Against a Police State group was promoting a benefit concert for Dec. 21 at Edgewater in Staten Island. Brooklyn rapper Ty "Blizzy" Black was expected to perform her song "Killer Cops," and organizers will collect $15 donations for the Garner family's Christmas gifts.
"We expect the event to be a healing situation because we know his kids and his grandkids will not feel left out of Christmas, which they will spend without their father this year," spokesman Thierry Rufnak told Staten Island Live.