The Granny Peace Brigade joined maybe 6000 on 28 April 2015 at the Union Square Solidarity Rally and March for Freddie Gray, Jr. (25 years old) who died due to severe injuries while in Baltimore police custody. What did the police say: he did it to himself! A coroner said differently: homicide. And on May 1, 6 police officers involved with the arrest on 12 April were charged. Tamir Rice, 12 years old, shot by Cleveland police on 22 November 2014; for playing with a toy gun in a park within seconds of their reaching the park, is also being blamed for his own death! According to a Washington Post report (15/03/02), “in response to the federal lawsuit by Tamir’s family, city officials accuse Tamir of “failure ….. to excercise due care to avoid injury.” However, as in Freddie’s case, a coroner has ruled homicide…..over 5 months ago. There is a difference though. As yet no charges have been filed in Tamir’s killing! What is the difference? Maybe its hundreds of thousands around the country going out to the streets saying: No MORE, Black Lives Matter.
Sorry, I have diverted a bit….but will get back to Tamir. The rally at Union Square was one of the largest I have seen there….. groups of mostly young people but all ages were there, scattered throughout the park….on 14th Street, by the Gandhi memorial, with the largest group by the speakers at the North end. It was a peaceful event, however police were well prepared with barriers around the park, their white vans lined up along 14th Street. Eva-Lee, Edith and I stood with the banner: Black Lives Matter at the fringe of the rally….it was packed and the noise level was too high to even hear speakers. Ann and Jenny were also there. We were interviewed by a team from MSNBC part of the Ed Show. We were one of many groups (eg. Nancy was there with the Quakers) in support of Freddie Gray and all the others killed by police under very questionable circumstances. My favorite sign was: Blue Lies Matter.
As the crowd started to move, so did we onto 17th Street, until the crowd halted, the road blocked by police. Some said the police were beating protestors with their batons. The crowd then turned back to the Square. When we looked behind us, a group of protestors were running, followed by a police barrage in charging mode. And then the police started arresting anyone staying on the streets. So the crowds pushed others, including us, to the pavement. This went on for some time. It was getting late, police were now setting up nets, and it was unclear what was happening next. And so the remaining two grannies (Eva-Lee and I) decided to leave. At this point, Eva-Lee mentioned this was her birthday! She said ” this was the best way, although angered at the reasons.” She said the murder that really angered her was Tamir Rice, just a 12 year old boy playing in the park.
As I walked to get my subway, I noticed a small crowd gathered around a group of photos hanging from the Park fence. This was a display of children killed by police. And there was a photo of Tamir, along with others: Andy Pena Herrera*, Aiyana Stanley-Jones**, Deaunta Farrow***…..among so many others. SHED LIGHT ON THE STOLEN CHILDREN was the sign. It was now night; dark; quiet; no crowds; just a few noticing this memorial.
As mothers, as Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers. just as people, we must continue to join with others in saying Black Lives Matter and for those gone, justice. Justice for Tamir Rice, NOW.
See Larry Wilmore’s piece about Justice for Tamir Rice on the Nightly Show.
– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
*Andy Pena Herrera aged 4 was killed with his mother, Maria who was 8 months pregnant and her 16 year old sister, Dilcia in Brooklyn by a drunk, off-duty policeman. He was charged and was imprisoned. (2001).
**Aiyana Stanley-Jones aged 7 was shot by police during a raid in her Detroit home. The officer responsible was charged, but after two mistrials, the prosecutor cleared him of all charges. (2010)
***DeAunta Farrow, aged 12, was shot by police while he was walking with a toy gun near his Memphis home. No charges were ever filed. (2007)