The family members of three Black men who have been killed or paralyzed by police are speaking out — and saying that they have formed a common bond through their traumatic experience.
Family members of Eric Garner, George Floyd and Jacob Blake Jr. sat down with Dateline's Craig Melvin, airing on NBC Thursday night. In the joint interview, they expressed frustration with the systems that failed the three men, but said that they find comfort in other families who have gone through the same thing.
"It's a kind of unity," says Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. "We all have a certain bond now because we know what it is to lose a loved one or to get a loved one so severely injured that it takes a part of us."
"It's so easy to look at each one of these people here and know they get it, man," adds Jacob Blake, Sr. "They get it. Because you never asked to be in this situation. But for somebody else's racism, we're in this situation because we are not looked at like humans."
An exclusive clip is below.
The high-profile deaths of Garner, Floyd and Blake sparked protests around the country about police violence and systemic racism.
Blake was shot by a police officer several times in the back in front of three of his children, paralyzing him. A white police officer at the Kenosha Police Department, Rusten Sheskey, was put on administrative leave. Earlier this week, the District Attorney announced that Sheskey would not face criminal charges, citing the fact that video footage showed Blake holding a knife.
Floyd was suffocated last May after a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, placed his knee on firmly on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd was handcuffed and lying on his stomach next to a Minneapolis patrol car. A disturbing video of his death went viral on social media.
Garner, 43, was killed on July 17, 2014, when a group of police officers wrestled him and one put him in a chokehold for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on a New York City sidewalk. According to footage of the incident filmed by an onlooker, Garner cried, “I can’t breathe!” and fell to the ground, gasping for air. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Although his death was ruled a homicide, a grand jury cleared the white police officer whose chokehold killed him.
In addition to the families' interviews, Thursday night's Dateline will include interviews with key experts and lawmakers on the demand for major police reforms and what they think should be done about police violence against Black Americans in the United States.
Dateline will premiere at 10 p.m. on January 7 on NBC.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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