Every name below belongs to a real person, someone whose life was taken by a police officer between 1999 and 2014. Every one of these individuals belonged to a family, with parents, with children in many cases, and other close relatives who loved them dearly. Each one of these individuals is still loved and missed. Read brief statements about each person here.
Last Saturday, the nation and world listened and watched as the loved ones of several Black men killed in recent years spoke about the need for justice and police accountability. For any of you who are inclined, take a few minutes to say each one of the names below - both women and men who have been killed in recent years. And when you feel like it's getting to be a long and drawn out exercise, think about the family members of each one, and how the idea of "long and drawn out" now takes on a different kind of meaning for them. The process of seeking justice. The realization that their loved ones won't be coming back home for birthdays, for graduations, for marriages. They won't be coming back to offer a smile, to tell one more joke, to offer guidance and wisdom to the young people coming behind them, to console their husbands or wives, to tuck their children into bed at night, or to care for their mothers and fathers as they age. They won't be around to tell stories and reminisce during this coming holiday season, or the next. I hurt for their loss of life, and for the many grieving family members who will never see their loved ones again.
For anyone who so flippantly dismisses any of this loss of life as being 'justified' and somehow not the huge tragedy that it is, I can't help but assume a complete lack of humanity and compassion in that person's heart and spirit. Every one of these losses is a huge tragedy, and one that we should all be outraged about.
The underlying concept of policing and law enforcement, and how the officers in these institutions have come to view specific racial and ethnic communities in this country, appears to be a key part of the problem. Everything from the underlying mission of law enforcement to the face-to-face contact between officers and citizens has to be addressed.
To reiterate that not all police officers are bad is a distraction. The problem is that there are some - however many there are - who are, and that there are few to no accountability mechanisms in place to discourage the corrupt and brutal acts of violence too many officers inflict upon other people.
I agree with the folks I've heard call for felony criminal prosecution of officers who observe or otherwise know about the misconduct and brutality of officers and fail to intervene and/or report it. Some sort of drastic intervention will be needed to turn this historical pattern around.
And until this happens, let us continue to remember each one of these lives that have been taken away from us - and also those many whose names don't appear here.
Let us simultaneously continue to protect the lives of all our loved ones still here...
Gone too soon...
Rumain Brisbon, 34, Phoenix, Ariz.—Dec. 2, 2014
Tamir Rice, 12, Cleveland, Ohio—Nov. 22, 2014
Akai Gurley, 28, Brooklyn, NY—Nov. 20, 2014
Kajieme Powell, 25, St. Louis, Mo.—August 19, 2014
Ezell Ford, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—August 12, 2014
Dante Parker, 36, San Bernardino County, Calif.—August 12, 2014
Michael Brown, 18, Ferguson, Mo.—August 9, 2014
John Crawford III, 22, Beavercreek, Ohio—August 5, 2014
Tyree Woodson, 38, Baltimore, Md.—August 2, 2014
Eric Garner, 43, New York, N.Y.—July 17, 2014
Victor White III, 22, Iberia Parish, La.—March 22, 2014
Yvette Smith, 47, Bastrop, Texas—February 16, 2014
McKenzie Cochran, 25, Southfield, Mich.—January 28, 2014
Jordan Baker, 26, Houston, Texas—January 16, 2014
Andy Lopez, 13, Santa Rosa, Calif.—October 22, 2013
Miriam Carey, 34, Washington, D.C.—October 3, 2013
Jonathan Ferrell, 24, Bradfield Farms, N.C.—September 14, 2013
Carlos Alcis, 43, New York, N.Y.—August 15, 2013
Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., 32, Austin, Texas—July 26, 2013
Deion Fludd, 17, New York, N.Y.—May 5, 2013
Kimani Gray, 16, New York, N.Y.—March 9, 2013
Johnnie Kamahi Warren, 43, Dotham, Ala.—December 10, 2012
Malissa Williams, 30, Cleveland, Ohio—November 29, 2012
Timothy Russell, 43, Cleveland, Ohio—November 29, 2012
Reynaldo Cuevas, 20, New York, N.Y.—September 7, 2012
Chavis Carter, 21, Jonesboro, Ark.—July 29, 2012
Shantel Davis, 23, New York, N.Y.—June 14, 2012
Sharmel Edwards, 49, Las Vegas, Nev.—April 21, 2012
Tamon Robinson, 27, New York, N.Y.—April 18, 2012
Ervin Jefferson, 18, Atlanta, Ga.—March 24, 2012
Kendrec McDade, 19, Pasadena, Calif.—March 24, 2012
Rekia Boyd, 22, Chicago, Ill.—March 21, 2012
Shereese Francis, 30, New York, N.Y.—March 15, 2012
Wendell Allen, 20, New Orleans, La.—March 7, 2012
Nehemiah Dillard, 29, Gainesville, Fla.—March 5, 2012
Dante Price, 25, Dayton, Ohio—March 1, 2012
Raymond Allen, 34, Galveston, Texas—February 27, 2012
Sgt. Manuel Loggins, Jr., 31, Orange County, Calif.—February 7, 2012
Ramarley Graham, 18, New York, N.Y.—February 2, 2012
Kenneth Chamberlain, 68, White Plains, N.Y.—November 19, 2011
Alonzo Ashley, 29, Denver, Colo.—July 18, 2011
Kenneth Harding, 19, San Francisco, Calif.—July 16, 2011
Raheim Brown, 20, Oakland, Calif.—January 22, 2011
Reginald Doucet, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—January 14, 2011
Derrick Jones, 37, Oakland, Calif.—November 8, 2010
Danroy Henry, 20, Thornwood, N.Y.—October 17, 2010
Aiyana Jones, 7, Detroit, Mich.—May 16, 2010
Steven Eugene Washington, 27, Los Angeles, CA—March 20, 2010
Aaron Campbell, 25, Portland, Ore.—January 29, 2010
Kiwane Carrington, 15, Champaign, Ill.—October 9, 2009
Victor Steen, 17, Pensacola, Fla.—October 3, 2009
Shem Walker, 49, New York, N.Y.—July 11, 2009
Oscar Grant, 22, Oakland, Calif.—January 1, 2009
Tarika Wilson, 26, Lima, Ohio—January 4, 2008
DeAunta Terrel Farrow, 12, West Memphis, Ark.—July 22, 2007
Sean Bell, 23, New York, N.Y.—November 25, 2006
Henry Glover, 31, New Orleans, La.—September 2, 2005
Ronald Madison, 40, New Orleans, La.—Sept. 4, 2005
James Brisette, 17, New Orleans, La.—Sept. 4, 2005
Timothy Stansbury, 19, New York, N.Y.—January 24, 2004
Alberta Spruill, 57, New York, N.Y.—May 16, 2003
Ousmane Zongo, 43, New York, N.Y.—May 22, 2003
Orlando Barlow, 28, Las Vegas, Nev.—February 28, 2003
Timothy Thomas, 19, Cincinnati, Ohio—April 7, 2001
Prince Jones, 25, Fairfax County, Va.—Sept. 1, 2000
Ronald Beasley, 36, Dellwood, Mo.—June 12, 2000
Earl Murray, 36, Dellwood, Mo.—June 12, 2000
Patrick Dorismond, 26, New York, NY—March 16, 2000
Malcolm Ferguson, 23, New York, N.Y.—March 1, 2000
Amadou Diallo, 23, New York, N.Y.—Feb. 4, 1999
From the Democracy Now broadcast on December 2, 2014:
One week after the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, President Obama has given his first major policy response to the protests from Ferguson and beyond over racial profiling and police brutality. At a meeting with activists and officials from around the country, Obama unveiled a process to address what he called "simmering distrust." The administration's response comes as protests continue nationwide over the non-indictment of former officer Darren Wilson over killing Brown. On Monday, demonstrators walked out of workplaces and classrooms in some 30 cities with their hands raised, the symbol of Brown's death and the movement that has emerged since. As the "Hands Up Walk Out" took place, some of the movement's key leaders were not out in the streets but inside the White House.
Obama's guests included seven young activists who have helped organize the protests in Ferguson and in other communities of color. We are joined by one of those activists:
Ashley Yates, an activist, poet and artist who is co-creator of Millennial Activists United. "While that is a step towards ending this real problem," Yates says of Obama's reforms, "the real root of it has to be addressed. And the real root of it is racism in America, the anti-black sentiments that exist. Until we begin to address that, we really can't have any real change — all we have are these small steps towards justice. We need leaps and bounds."
Powerful and clear perspective by Ashley Yates shared at approximately 4:15 into the video clip below.
'Glory', the tribute song by Common and John Legend, featured in the new movie, Selma.
On the song, Common reflects...
I really was thinking about encouraging people that we've come a long way, but we've still got some fighting to do, and we are capable. We've got to carry this torch and take it to the next level.
Many thousands of people will be out on the streets marching today, in cities across this country. The rallying cry is justice for families and communities whose women, men and children have been killed at the hands of law enforcement officers, and others acting with a sheer disregard - contempt even - for Black life.
Just this past week, four mothers of African American men and boys murdered at the hands of police officers, and one acting in a vigilante law enforcement spirit, sat together for the first time for an interview and discussion about their families' experiences, and their continuing quest for justice for their sons.
The four mothers included:
- Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, 17 years old when he was killed by a 'neighborhood watch' person in Florida
- Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Gardner, 43 years old when he was killed by a police officer in New York City
- Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, 18 years old when he was killed by a police officer in Missouri
- Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, 12 years old when he was killed by a police officer in Ohio
From the CNN piece...
The mothers of these four unarmed black men and boys felled by bullets or excessive police force have no doubt their sons would still be alive if they were white. No question, they say.
Describing the role of racial profiling in the killing of her son, Sybrina Fulton describes...
The main reason why he was shot and killed was because this neighborhood crime watch was looking for an African American who had been breaking in houses around there, and he picked the wrong teenager. My son was not breaking in any houses, my son was not committing any crime.
Anderson Cooper then 'innocently' asks... "How do you change that perception?", presumably speaking of our greater society.
Fulton's reply is very telling, and clearly explains the wide gulf (more here and here and here for starters) between African American and white perceptions of law enforcement, our respective reactions to the recent high-profile killings of African Americans by law enforcement, and the urgency required for responding to this pattern:
Well, I actually think we need a little divine intervention. Because, I don't really believe that people are going to just change overnight. And it's a more deeply rooted hatred that people have for African Americans. And if you're not an African American... A lot of people don't understand. They don't quite get it. They just think that we are complaining about something that doesn't really exist. And we are living this every day.
I won't spend much time on this, but here's one of the problems I have. Isn't it kind of ironic that Anderson Cooper, one of the most widely recognized news personalities of our time, a white man whose recognition among many is as someone who 'gets it' - and on such a huge network as CNN no less - is asking with his characteristically concerned and innocent tone, how 'you' change that perception? And I get that he was probably using 'you' casually, but I'm not feeling it. His institution represents the problem involved with 'changing that perception'.
I absolutely appreciate the news coverage, and the opportunity to have this group of mothers tell a part of our community's story, but this passive-when-it-wants-to-be news approach is insulting and offensive. Andersoon Cooper, and CNN for that matter, both know exactly how to change that perception. Instead, however, and as a great deal of their Ferguson coverage illustrates, they reinforce that larger societal perception of Blacks as being violent, lawless and to be feared.
The stories of this group of mothers, though, is absolutely worth listening to. The spirit in their voices is powerful, and their steadfast determination not to let the brutal killings of their sons - our collective sons - be forgotten is absolutely admirable.
Let's be clear that lynching is not a thing of the past. This nation's government and legal systems, with media complicity - just have a more sophisticated way of allowing - even encouraging, one could argue - these sorts of horrendous acts of racial terrorism and brutality.
"We don't need more leaders, we need more ideas"... to solve this world's challenges. - Suli Breaks' presentation
J. Cole performing his song, Be Free, dedicated to Mike Brown...
"All we want to do is take the chains off... All we want to do is break the chains off... All we want to do is be free!"
50 years ago, the John Coltrane quartet recorded "A Love Supreme," a jazz masterwork recognized as one of the greatest albums in history. Cornel West, Archie Shepp and others join to discuss the album's lasting musical, cultural and spiritual impact.
- Cornel West @CornelWest (New York, NY) Activist; Author; Public Intellectual
- Guthrie Ramsey @DrGuyMusiqology (Philadelphia, PA) Professor of Music & Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania
- Lewis Porter (New York, NY) Jazz Pianist & Composer; Author, "John Coltrane: His Life and Music"
- Archie Shepp (Paris, France) Grammy Award-nominated Jazz Saxophonist & Composer
- Ashley Kahn (San Francisco, CA) Instructor, Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, NYU Tisch ; Author, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album
- Stanley Crouch (New York, NY) Poet, Author & Cultural Critic
Recorded earlier today, Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Stevie Wonder... from a YouTube video posted on December 4, 2014.
"Can you believe that within one month, two secret grand juries declined to indict two policemen for the killing of two Black men? I just don't understand that.
Let me just say this also: I don't understand why a legal system would choose secrecy when there's so much mistrust of what they're saying. I don't understand why there could not have been a public trial where we would be able to hear all sides...I just don't understand that.
I tell you what I do understand. I heard Eric Garner say, with my own ears: 'I Can't Breathe.' And as much as he's apologized, I don't understand why he [the policeman] did not stop...I've heard politicians say, you've got all this black-on-black crime, but my feeling's that guns are too accessible to everybody.
I do understand that something is wrong, real wrong. And we as family, Americans, all of us of all colors, need to fix it with a quickness, real soon.
I really love you, you know that. This is why this song unfortunately is still relevant today....."
"Living For The City" - Stevie Wonder performing during the Seattle stop of his 2014 "Songs in the Key of Life" concert tour..
In light of the recent high publicity killings of Black women, men and children at the hands of police officers and other white citizens, as well as the recent series of 'no-indictment' decisions handed down by grand juries, members of church congregations across the country have carried on the legacy of activism and advocacy that has characterized the Black church tradition for over a century.
Below is a short clip featuring highlights of a series of protest actions organized by members of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois.