Under the banner of “Black lives matter”, protests against police racism and violence have continued across America over Christmas and in the New Year.
On Monday 5 January, protesters gathered for a 24 hour vigil in New York’s Grand Central Station, with placards carrying the names of those killed by police in the last decade. A rally outside Washington’s Capitol Hill with families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and others attracted over 25,000 protestors on 13 December.
In Ferguson, one of the jurors from the Grand Jury into the shooting of Michael Brown has filed a lawsuit charging that the St Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, presented relevant legal information to jurors “in a muddled and untimely manner” and that “evidence was presented differently than in other cases” with and “insinuation that Brown, not Wilson, was the wrong doer.”
The lawsuit seeks to gain permission for the juror to speak openly about the case, when usually jurors would be prohibited from speaking publicly; the juror felt the Grand Jury decision was misrepresented by McCulloch.
Cleveland Mayor, Frank Jackson, has expressed a lack of trust in state prosecutors to investigate the killing of 12 year old Tamir Rice, shot two seconds after police arrived at the scene for holding a pellet gun. Jackson said “I don’ t have confidence that a [state Bureau of Criminal Investigation] probe into police use-of-force would be a transparent, due-process kind of investigation”.
On 23 December, an 18 year old black man, Antonio Martin, was shot and killed by a white police officer in the St Louis suburb of Berkeley. The police officer was responding to a reported theft at a gas station and alleges that Antonio drew a hand gun. Antonio did not fire any shots, yet the police officer claimed he feared for his life and fired his gun three times. Just five minutes passed between the time the call was placed about a possible theft and the officer opening fire.
These kind of events as well as the protests continue to cast a spotlight on how the routine arming of police officers, the escalation of policing minor incidents, and racism work together in a lethal way.