Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

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.

For more information on this issue:

Still waiting for Justice for Eric Garner

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Last Friday, 17 July 2015 was the one year anniversary of the murder of Eric Garner for the crime of selling “loosies”, individual cigarettes in front of Bay Beauty Supply on Staten Island. While the coroner declared this a homicide, to date, no one has faced an arrest, in particular Daniel Pantelano, the NYPD Officer carrying out the now infamous and illegal choke-hold leading directly to Eric Garner’s death and his last words: “I can’t breathe.” In fact, the only one arrested regards this murder was Ramsey Orta, who took the cell phone video of the murder and who is now, together with members of his family, reportedly  under regular police harassment.

Today’s memorial at the site of the murder had a somber tone. Eleven white roses, one for each time Eric cried “I can’t breathe,” were laid one upon  another, with the crowd repeating his cry for life. Nydia placed one of these on behalf of the Grannies. Yes, there was anger expressed. Disappointment. Chants for justice for Eric Garner and all the black lives being lost to police violence. Concern for Ramsey Orta, a hero for sharing the video of the event, knowing how this could adversely affect his life.

We express our condolences to the family of Eric Garner. No Justice/No Peace.

Alice, Eva-Lee, Marty, Nydia, Tibby

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Blue Lies Matter just as Black Lives Matter

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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)

One Day-Two Demos: Control Drones in NYC & Shut It Down

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New York’s “finest”: We have concerns

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 the Grannies had two actions. The first, outside City Hall. NO use of Weaponized Drones or Surveillance Drones in NYC. It was a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, which has before it two New York City code amendments that could result in the use of drones in NYC. We did try to meet with Council Members before the action, but no response. The public response is generally NO…..NO drones in NYC skies.
Contact your Council Member (council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml) and say NO DRONES for surveillance of citizens and no weaponized drone  in NYC.

The second action which should be related, but isn’t yet: SHUT IT DOWN. Ending police murder of our citizens. Its time for justice for Eric Garner, and so many others and stop the police harrassment of Ramsey Orta, the only person imprisoned for the murder of Eric Garner. What did Ramsey do? He took the cell phone photos!

A good mid-afternoon crowd at Union Square, then marching to Police Plaza. Many of the same faces, but even more young people coming out to say: Enough. A peaceful protest, but a very heavy NYPD presence. Good everyone has cell phones and media is around.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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On this chilly 19 Jan 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day, the Granny Peace Brigade provided a line of yellow banners and schmattes as we marched amidst a wide range of groups and young and old alike from 110th and Lenox to the United Nations, about 4 miles away.

An unexpected challenge: the two hills on Lexington Ave! While not all the grannies made it to the end, we were accompanied by a wonderful young man, Khalil Qayyum, a warden assigned to ensure our well being  all along the way.

A big thank you to Khalil! It seemed like a few thousand started the march; not quite so many(including some of the grannies) by the time we reached the end.

Music, provided by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, helped to keep up the enthusiasm throughout the day and certainly helped our group along! With our new GPB banner together with one for the action: “Black Lives Matter,” we were a very photographed group. Our presence seemed to be warmly welcomed although a few giggles were heard from some of the younger participants!

Have a look at the Washington Post article that features a quote from Phyllis Cunningham. An excellent interview and article, which gives a really good overview of the day.

This was a good peaceful action, respecting the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, at the same time expressing the challenges still before us to achieve “his dream/our dream.”

-Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

More photos on Facebook

Black Lives Matter: Still waiting for Justice for Eric Garner

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On the birth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr., Jan 15, we also remembered the killing of Eric Garner by Daniel Pantaleo on 17 July 2014–a sad 6 month commemoration. It was especially sad as there is no sign as yet that justice will be done for Eric Garner, in view of the recent Grand Jury decision.

This was a clear, cold, sunny day as the crowds gathered at the Staten Island Ferry in the late afternoon for the vigil to be held at the Staten Island police station. The vigil was followed by a walk to the court house and office of District Attorney Daniel Donovan, and then down to the site of Eric Garner’s attack, leading to his death. Well over 300 braved the cold, listened to the statements of Eric Garner’s family and friends, chanted and sang, and then held their lit candles in silence, expiring them at 4:45pm, the moment of Eric Garner’s death. The group proceed up the hill to the court house, and then down to the site of the altercation with the police, Beauty Supply storefront, to lay a carnation at the makeshift memorial. The previous vocal crowd was silenced and slowly dispersed.

There were four Granny Peace Brigadiers there, Barbara W., Eva-Lee, Phyllis and me. In a way we were surprised to not see familiar faces from other actions. What was inspiring: the march and vigil organized by public defender lawyers and the number of young people there. The signs reflected their hopes and frustrations: no peace without Justice, release of the grand jury proceedings, accountability of killer cops, and throughout the crowd, “Black Lives Matter.” Several local TV stations were there and one could hear commentary by international news groups.

The momentum of 2014 continues. And over time, will grow: there will be no peace without justice!

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Black Lives Matter Demo in Grand Central Terminal

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Monday, January 5, 2015

A group of demonstrators including Bev, Jenny, Joan, Marty, Mercy, Nancy, and Tibby carried signs provided by We Will Not Be Silent.

What Do We Want? Justice!

Each sign had a slogan on one side and the name of a black person killed by the police or by white terrorists on the other side. You probably recognize the names of Mike Brown and Akai Gurley and know how they died. Carole Robertson was killed when the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed at 10:19AM, Sunday, September 15, 1963 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Carole Robertson was 14 years old when she was killed.

Around 8:30PM a group of demonstrators left Grand Central Terminal and marched chanting to Times Square. When we stopped, one woman was called on to speak to the gathering crowd of onlookers. That is where I learned that the woman carrying the Akai Gurley sign was his aunt.

Since the whole damn system is guilty as hell, where do we begin?
Here are some thoughts. What are yours?

  • Have special prosecutors in charge of grand juries in cases where a police officer has shot an unarmed black person.
  • End the criminalization of nonviolent behavior.

Changes in policing are not the only way to solve problems.

  • Maintain facilities in NYCHA housing.
  • Raise the minimum wage.
  • Reverse the slide into extreme income inequality with progressive taxes.

What else?

– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade