Ramsey: A Graphic Novel

Of all of the people involved in the death of Eric Garner on July 17th, 2014, the only person currently serving a prison sentence, is Ramsey Orta--the man who recorded the harrowing and brutal incident on his cell phone. The video has been seen by millions and helped launch one of the most important civil rights movements of our time, but Ramsey has paid a tragic price. 

This fundraising project has been created to support a graphic novel about Ramsey's experiences.  Along with the illustrator and co-writer (Jonathan Burkhardt) this true story has been created by Ramsey himself while he serves a four year sentence on charges he still contests.

PRISON INTERVIEW: Ramsey talks about why he filmed the Garner video


Though his story has been told in pieces elsewhere, he has never before spoken publicly at such length and depth about what happened to him following the release of the Garner footage.

The struggles he encountered--with the public, the press, the activist community and most of all with the police--represent an important and not-often-told portion of the ongoing fight against police intimidation and brutality.

What can happen to someone who stands up to the police? How do the police exact revenge against those that expose them? What was it about Ramsey that gave him the will to film the police? (This was, in fact, not the only video he released of police brutality. ) These are questions that the story hopes to answer.

(Ofc. Daniel Panaleo, Eric Garner, Ofc. Justin D'Amico.)

The story is urgent and necessary and it has not been easy to tell. Ramsey continues to be harassed by authorities while in prison and a good portion of his time has been spent in solitary confinement. He has been transferred from prison to prison numerous times almost always to locations that are difficult for his family and support network to visit.  But he continues to persevere.   

AUDIO--PRISON INTERVIEW: Ramsey talks about how harassment has not stopped since he got to prison.

Half of the money from this campaign will go to Ramsey so that he can furnish a life after he gets out in 2019. The other half will help to pay his illustrator and co-writer so that there is time to finish it and find a publisher. The script has been written and the artistic style has been established. All we need now is a little time and a little support. Even a few bucks will go long long way in supporting this cause....

We of course know money is tight for a lot of people, so if you can't support financially please share this page with your friends and family and anyone else you think should be aware of this important story. 

AUDIO--PRISON INTERVIEW: Ramsey talks about why support is important.

If you would like your contribution to be tax deductible, send an email to [email redacted] prior to making the donation and we will provide instructions. 


We are hoping to complete this phase of fundraising by the end of June, 2018. The story is timely and requires a lot of work to tell. The more money we raise and the faster it comes in, the quicker it comes out.


The story tracks Ramsey's life over a two-week period that begins in the hours following Garner’s death and ends with the first of several arrests.

(Concept sketches of Ramsey.)

As his video spreads throughout the city and the world, Ramsey becomes convinced that the cops are intent on exacting vengeance on him. He notices the unmarked car parked outside his front door, the lights shining into in his bedroom window at night. Certain that they are recording his movements, just as he had recorded theirs, he locks himself away in his apartment for days on end, where his nightmares begin to seep into his waking hours. Exactly two weeks after the filming, the King's County Coroner rules Garner's death a homicide. That same night, Orta is arrested on the charges he still contests.

AUDIO--PRISON INTERVIEW: Ramsey talks about his experiences with the public after the release of the video.

(Concept sketch of Ramsey.)

About the art

Stylistically the art will draw heavily from expressionist movies and woodcuts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and from expressionism's twentieth century cousin, film noir.  To achieve this feel all images will be drawn mainly using either white ink on black paper, or with scratchboard.

(202A Bay St. in Tomkinsville, Staten Island, NY.)

All backgrounds, landscapes and street shots are "on location"--which is to say they are drawn from references of the actual areas where they take place. In many cases reference images were shot with a Metro PCS Galaxy Exhibit--the same type of phone which Ramsey used to capture Eric Garner's death. Many of the faces which appear in the graphic novel were also inspired by the myriad personalities that populate the Tomkinsville neighborhood in Staten Island.

(Selected sketches of neighborhood faces.)

Where photographic reference was not available, locations were recreated in detail by Ramsey. For example, a good portion of the story's events take place in Ramsey's apartment on Van Duzer St, in Staten Island. Since the time of the story he and his family have moved out of the apartment, so there is no longer access. RAMSEY, who at one point in time planned to become an architect and studied perspective and blueprinting while at technical high school in his teens, created very detailed floor plans of this location which were used extensively in the recreation of the scenes. He also drew extensive schematics of where the cops would place themselves in his neighborhood.
  • Carla Briscoe 
    • $20 
    • 17 mos
  • Geraldine Gregg 
    • $200 
    • 22 mos
  • Geraldine Gregg 
    • $100 
    • 28 mos
  • jason bryan 
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
  • Eric Johnson  
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
See all

Fundraising team: WeCopwatch (2)

Jonathan Burkhardt 
Raised $1,320 from 16 donations
Brooklyn, NY
Jacob Crawford 
Team member
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