Civil Liberties

Silent Defiance: Kid Wears 'RIP Eric Garner' Shirt, Dunks Over Cop Car


NYPD Twitter

You've probably heard about the tragic case of Eric Garner: On July 17, New York City Police officers tackled, asphyxiated, and killed the 56-year-old father of six with chokehold. He was allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. The NYPD has been getting some backlash for its heavy-handed "broken window" policing, and this weekend Garner's widow led a rally in opposition to police brutality, which has particularly affected the black community. Amid the NYPD's damage control effort, one young man staged a sort of protest of his own against the police.

During an annual basketball tournament on Friday in Staten Island, a "patrol car rolled into the park across the street" from the court, leaving "players and spectators fear[ing] police had arrived to break up the game." This was part of the setup, explains "The cop parked the car just in front of the hoop" and 20-year-old Brian Hogan-Gary leapt over the hood and executed a clean slam dunk. As planned, the cop car's sirens went off. The crowd went wild.

Although Joel Soto, the organizer of the tournament, cleared the stunt with the department beforehand, what appears to have been unplanned was Hogan-Gary's attire: just before taking the shot, he pulled off his jersey and revealed a shirt that read "R.I.P. ERIC GARNER" on the front and "JUSTICE" on the back. 

According to, Garner's sons are part of the basketball league that stages the tournament, but they weren't present.

It may have been a small, silent act, but it takes some brass to pull that one over the NYPD. Does the fact that it happened during a cop-approved event lessen Hogan-Gary's chutzpah? I'd argue not. Rather, it seems like it underscores his wit – kind of like when the NYPD ran a Twitter campaign to boost its image, only to be flooded with countless passive-aggressive replies in the form of photos of cops kicking the crap out of people. The police try to put on a kinder, gentler façade, and people like Hogan-Gary keep that picture in check.

Below is one angle of the shot. Click here for another angle.