A memorial of flowers and other items left at the site where Eric Garner was killed on Staten Island ignited on Monday night, but officials are calling the fire an accident.
Garner’s daughter, Erica Garner, said on Twitter she believes the fire was deliberately set. Fire and police officials say candles left at the site started the accidental blaze.
The FDNY said six units were sent to the intersection of Victory and Bay Streets in Tompkinsville at 10:24 p.m. on Monday. Just two units were used to extinguish the fire, and the scene was cleared at 10:43 p.m.
Around midnight, Erica Garner tweeted “lord forgive these evil people who burned down POPS memorial this is really sick my struggle still cont,” and called for an investigation. Garner also tweeted it reminded her of crosses burning in outside of Dr. Martin Luther King’s house.
Hours earlier, Erica Garner spoke at Foley Square and participated in the 4 Mile March, one of several events on MLK Day that remembered the civil rights leader, and called for justice for Eric Garner, who died after allegedly being put in a chokehold by a cop, and for other men of color killed by police.
Sumumba Sobukwe, an organizer with Occu-Evolve, said a vigil was planned for Tuesday night with the Garner family at the site.
“My gut reaction was that Staten Island can be quite hostile a place to people of African descent and other non-white people,” Sobukwe said of hearing about the fire.