No More Stolen Lives

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Ending Police Violence across the country was the focus of  3 days of action: Oct 22-24 in New York City, featuring families who have lost members due to police violence coming from all over the country to bear witness.

Oct 22-SAY THEIR NAMES  was a reading of the names in Times Square of those killed by police,  as well as a telling of the stories by family members. This was perhaps the most moving of the activities. Heartfelt accounting of the killings of young people like Aiyana Stanley-of Jones of Detroit, 8 years old shot in the head by a policeman, dying in her grandmothers arms on a sofa was told by her grandmother. Nicolas Heyward, Jr. 13 years old was killed by police in NYC while playing cops and robbers with a colorful toy gun 20 years ago. His father still fights for justice for his son.  Amadou Diallo, 23 years old,  was  mistakenly identified by NYPD as a suspect in a crime and was shot 19 times while reaching for his wallet.  While receiving financial compensation from NYC, his mother continues to fight for justice for other families losing their children to police violence.  And so many other stories (see references below)  Sadly the audience was not more than 200 for this tearful event. Later that day, another small gathering was held in Brooklyn organized by Juanita Young. Her son, Malcolm Ferguson was 23 years old when shot in the head by NYPD after attending a protest of the not guilty verdict of the police involved in the shooting of Amadou Diallo.

Oct 23: SHUT IT DOWN. Rikers Island, the infamous NYC detention center was the site of civil disobedience, with around 15 arrested including  Raging Grannie, Alice. As Alice and I were introduced for a song, we were “renamed” as Raging Granny Peace Brigade! The police were respectful in not stepping on the gigantic photos laid on the ground; however when snarling dogs appeared on the other side of the barrier, we all wondered what might happen. (It stayed peaceful) The gathering for this was about 75.

October 24: Washington Square Park rally and march up 6th Ave to Bryant Park. Raging Grannies and GPB joined to sing under the arch, near the main stage where families again told their stories. A special exhibit of women/girls killed by police was displayed on the other side of the arch, reminding us that murder by police is not gender specific. Around 2000 marched peacefully to the Park. Apparently there were some arrests, however, we had left by that time…..exhausted by the long day, long walk!

I would have thought there would be thousands attending these events.   There are groups interested, but either they chose not to join or were not included. The killing of NYPD  Officer Holder that week may have influenced others….although there is no real linkage between a police office dying while doing his job and the cold bloody murder by police of people who did nothing wrong and too often of color. As I thought of doing this blog, I started googling the names of those featured in the black/white posters with 44 of those killed by police provided by the organizers. I must admit, I didn’t get as far as I hoped, as one story after another was so sad, so depressing, so concerning. In some cases financial compensation was provided to the families (i.e. Amadou Diallo’s, Malcolm Ferguson’s, Eric Garner’s among others). However, financial compensation is not the same as justice. It implied wrong-doing by the police concerned, but no individual police officer(s) was held accountable. Clearly, more needs to be done to hold “killer cops” individually accountable for crimes committed.

On the positive side, we see law-makers talking about changing the definition of “crime” and sentencing guidelines. We know that solitary confinement is torture; that too many people of color are incarcerated;  that the school to prison pipeline is growing stronger; and privatization of prisons expands. So the work continues to achieve justice for all.

Those of us at one or more of these events were: Eva-Lee, Edith, Joan, Nydia, Bev, Tibby, Vinie, Marty, RGs: Mercy, Alice, Rosemary, Julie, Judith and Fran and Bud were there for justice for the families, the memory of the slain, and to say NO MORE.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos by Marty except the last one which is Eric McGregor’s, with thanks.

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