NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – In the call for police reforms and justice system overhauls, now is not the time for the voices of change to slowly grow quiet. That’s why Tormel Pittman said he invited Gwen Carr – Eric Garner’s mother – to lead Sunday’s rally.
She’s been a grieving mom, an author, an activist and now a guest in the Hub City whose call for change has remained as loud as the day in 2014 when her son died after being placed in a choke hold by a New York City cop.
If Eric uttered “I can’t breathe,” with his dying words, then Carr continues to defiantly declare “I won’t stop” with hers.
“The reason why it was important for me to bring her to New Brunswick is because she is still vigilant about getting justice, not just for her son, but for everyone,” said Pittman, a New Brunswick native and organizer of Sunday’s protest. “She hasn’t given up and that’s so inspiring to me. She still goes city to city, state to state, getting the message out there.”
Sunday’s march against racism and police misconduct will start at 2:30 p.m. at the corner of Throop Avenue and Handy Street.
For Pittman, it’s crucial to continue the momentum that was built in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25.
Rage and outrage fueled protests in cities across the country for several weeks. Since, stores have opened for limited service, outdoor, youth sports have been given the green light and life is beginning to slowly return to normal in the city and across the state.
Pittman said it’s important that people remember there’s a lot more work that needs to be done if systemic and societal changes are going to come.
“We have to make sure that people know this is a long, ongoing process, and that true advocates aren't going anywhere,” he said. “So, this is big for me because it's kind of like I'm doing it in the process of demonstrations dwindling down. People are able to go out. Malls are opening, things of that nature. So, this is important.”
Pittman said activists tend to run in small circles and he met Carr at a march in New York and then one in Roselle. Because they are connected by their fight for justice and their personal experiences with police misconduct, activists often become like family, Pittman said.
He remembers being moved by her words the first time her heard her speak. He knows New Brunswick will feel the same way.
“She is amazing,” Pittman said. “You get to feel her story.”