Erica, whose father died during a police chokehold in Staten Island, NY, released a video statement to the Huffington Post after she walked out of the taping when ABC producers ignored her questions on air.
“ABC is using black lives as a rating and to get paid,” Garner said. “They guaranteed me that I would be asking the president direct questions about what’s going on. I was lied to.” According to Garner’s political adviser Reggie Harris, the head of Disney, ABC’s parent company, requested Erica’s presence at the event.
“I had to stage a walkout by myself,” Garner continued. “And I went out there I had to yell, scream, and eventually I was able to speak to the president. It’s a shame as black people that we have to yell and become belligerent to have our voices heard.” The social activist also took to Twitter to dub the town hall “a full exploitation of Black pain and grief.”
Yo this town hall that presidential town hall #abc arranged is a farce. It was nothing short of full exploitation of Black pain and grief
— officialERICA GARNER (@es_snipes) July 14, 2016
ABC has since released a statement on the controversy. “We took an extra 30 minutes to get to as many people as we could during the town hall. The President spoke to several people after the event ended, including at length with Erica Garner.” However, Garner claims that was not a part of the agreement.
that was not the agreement with ABC. The agreement was “if any questions get asked on air, mine would” https://t.co/ZAWlz5b3Rx
— officialERICA GARNER (@es_snipes) July 15, 2016
While President Obama expressed his concern for Garner as caught on camera, other attendees, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, were also displeased with the town hall’s ultimate direction.
“We denounce the ABC Town Hall ? it wasn’t a town hall,” Cullors said. “I’m upset with ABC and how they handled it. They curated a town hall that forced black people to be re-traumatized and didn’t allow for a real constructive conversation about what we’re going to do about race issues in this country.”
Catch Erica Garner’s thoughts on the event below.