April V. Taylor
The names pile up, so many names that we become numb to the reality that nearly every day, one more human being dies at the hands of those who are meant to protect and serve, many times simply because he or she is black. They become nameless faces, lost in a sea of unaccountability for those who snatch the breath from their bodies.
The Malcolm X Grass Roots Movements, an antiracist grassroots activist organization, did a study and found that just in 2012 alone, there were 313 documented cases of extrajudicial killing of black people at the hands of police and security officers. Organizer Kali Akuno states, ” When we started this investigation in early 2012, we knew a serious human rights crisis was confronting the Black community. However, we did not have a clear sense of its true depth until we compiled and examined the annual figures. We have uncovered outrageous rates of extrajudicial killings – rates, that when they are found in countries like Mexico or Brazil, are universally condemned. The same outrage inside the U.S. also demands immediate action.”
The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement issued a report regarding the study entitled “Operation Ghetto Storm.” As Alternet.org points out, the report, “explains why such killlings occur so often. Current practices of institutional racism have roots in the enslavement of black Africans, whose labor was exploited to build the American capitalist economy, and the genocide of Native Americans. The report points out that in order to maintain the systems of racism, colonialism, and capitalist exploitation, the United States maintains a network of ‘repressive enforcement structures.’ These structures include the police, FBI, Homeland Security, CIA, Secret Service, prisons, and private security companies, along with mass surveillance and mass incarceration.”
What follows here is just a brief list of the hundreds upon hundreds of black, unarmed people who have died at the hands of police and security officers:
1.) Kimani Grey
Kimani Grey was just 16 when two NYPD officers shot him four times in the front and side of his body as well as three times in the back as he was leaving a friend’s birthday party in Brooklyn, NY. The only witness to be publicly identified maintains that Grey was unarmed when he was murdered.
2.) Kendrec McDade
Kendrec McDade was a college student and only 19-years-old when officers in Pasadena, California responded to an armed robbery call and shot and killed him. After McDade was gunned down, officers found he was unarmed. His family has filed a lawsuit centering around the fact that his body was left lying in the street for a prolonged period of time, similar to the hours Michael Brown’s body lay in the street. Court documents heart wrenchingly record McDade’s last words as, “Why did they shoot me?” Officers were never held accountable for his murder.
3.) Timothy Russell
Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were murdered when Cleveland police officers fired 137 rounds into their car, claiming the pair were armed. No weapon of any kind was ever found.
4.) Ervin Jefferson
Eighteen year old Erving Jefferson was gunned down and murdered by two security guards while trying to protect his little sister outside his Atlanta home. He was unarmed.
5.) Amadou Diallo
Amadou Diallo is a case many know well. It is important for people to be reminded that Diallo had no criminal record and that he had 41 shots fired at him because officers claim they thought his wallet was a gun; he was in fact, unarmed. All involved officers were acquitted of second-degree murder charges.
6.) Patrick Dorismond
Patrick Dorismond was the the father of two young girls when he was murdered by undercover officers in 2000. The undercover officers attempted to purchase drugs from the unarmed Dorismand and then claimed that he grabbed officers gun and killed himself. Many believe that the acquittal of officers involved in the killing of Amadou Diallo led to these officers killing Dorismond and then attempting to cover it up.
7.) Ousmane Zongo
Ousmane Zongo was killed by NYPD officers at his workplace when officers raided a counterfeit-CD ring operating outing of the building he worked in. He was not involved and was gunned down when he ran from a plain clothed police officer who did not identify himself as an officer, who pulled a gun on him and chased him into a dead end before shooting him. Despite the officer involved being convicted of criminally negligent homicide, he never served jail time for the conviction. The judge in the case admitted the officer was, “insufficiently trained, insufficiently supervised and insufficiently led.”
8) Timothy Stansbury Jr.
Stansbury was killed by NYPD. He was unarmed and had no criminal record. The officer who shot him claimed it was an accident. There is no evidence to verify whether or not his death was in fact an accident.
9) Sean Bell
Sean Bell was killed on his wedding day by NYPD officers when they fired more than 50 bullets at his car outside of a strip club. The city eventually paid a $7 million settlement to Bell’s family and the two friends that were injured that night. The officers involved were found not guilty on all criminal charges. Bell was unarmed despite an officer claiming he had a gun just before opening fire.
10) Orlando Barlow
In much the same way Michael Brown was surrendering, Orlando Barlow was on his knees in surrender when a Las Vegas police officer shot him from 50 feet away, claiming the unarmed Barlow was reaching for a gun. Despite the murder being ruled excusable during an internal investigation by the local department, federal investigators found that officers involved in the murder had t-shirts printed up that had “BDRT” written on them, standing for “Baby Daddy Removal Team.” Federal investigators also concluded that excessive force was used.
11) Aaron Campbell
Aaron Campbell was shot in the back in 2005 by Portland, Oregon police officer Ronald Freashour. He claims the unarmed Campbell was reaching for a weapon, but witnesses state that Campbell was walking backward toward police with his hands locked behind his head. Frashour was never found criminally liable for Campbell’s death, but Campbell’s mother did receive a $1.2 million settlement in a wrongful-death suit filed against the city.
12) Victor Steen
Victor Steen was tased and then run over by a cop in Pensacola, Florida while he was riding his bicycle. Despite the unarmed teens murder being captured on video, a judge ruled that there was no crime committed.
13) Steven Eugene Washington
Washington, who was autistic, was gunned down by gang-enforcement officers in Los Angeles after officers claimed he was pulling something from his waistband. He was unarmed.
14) Alonzo Ashley
Ashley was tased to death at the Denver Zoo after refusing to stop splashing water on his face from a water fountain on a hot day. Officers admitted that Ashley was unarmed but claimed he had “extraordinary strength.” The officers were not held criminally liable for Ashley’s death.
15) Wendell Allen
Allen was shot in the chest while five children were present in a home where officers were serving a warrant. No justification was given as to why officers shot the unarmed Allen.
16) Ronald Madison and James Brissette
An unarmed family was gunned down following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ronald Madison and James Brissette were killed, and four others were wounded. Ronald Madison, who had severe mental disabilities, was running away when he was shot. Officers proceeded to stomp and kick him until he died. Although the officers were found to have violated civil rights, they were not found guilty of murder in either case. All victims were unarmed.
17) Tavares McGill
McGill was killed in the same Florida county where Trayvon Martin was killed. He was just 16-years-old when two security guards killed him. The guards claimed McGill was trying to run them over, but evidence showed that McGill was killed by a bullet that hit him in the back, proving the officer continued firing after the car was moving away from, not towards, him.
18) Ramarley Graham
Graham was killed in his grandmother’s bathroom in Bronx, New York. Officers did not have a warrant to enter the home, and Graham was unarmed. Despite the officer being indicted on manslaughter charges, a judge tossed it out, claiming jurors had been misled.
19) Oscar Grant
Oscar Grant’s story was highlighted in the movie, “Fruitvale Station.” He was shot while laying face down with his hands behind his back. The officer involved served 11 months for involuntary manslaughter.
20) Manuel Loggins Jr.
Loggins, a Marine sergeant and father of three, was murdered in his SUV as his 9 and 14-year-old daughters looked on. Officers were never charged criminally, but the family won a $4.4 million lawsuit regarding his killing.
As communities across the country continue to reel following the murder of Michael Brown in broad daylight by a Ferguson police officer, many wonder what they can do to begin dismantling the system that allows for mass incarceration and murder by cops to be the modern forms of slavery and lynching. Follow the next article in this series to read more about the “Operation Ghetto Storm” report, and how you can start a movement in your community to end mass incarceration and police brutality.