1. Justice for Ramarley Graham:
It’s been more than two years since the New York City Police Department broke down the door of unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham’s Bronx home and shot him to death in front of his brother and grandmother. After initially failing to indict the officer who fired the fatal shots, the Bronx court has been unsuccessful in securing a conviction in Ramarley’s death. His family and his memory won’t know justice until that happens.
In my career as an activist, I have seen many cases of police misconduct and the untimely deaths of young men of color. To have cases like Trayvon Martin, Ramarley Graham, and Jordan Davis, back to back, to back is heartbreaking but not shocking. We have to stand up as a community to demand justice for these young men and to prevent tragedies like these in the future. The Color of Change, an organization that supports and expands the voice of Black America in national politics, started a petition to ask the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder to bring charges against the officers involved in Ramarley’s death. With enough signatures we may be able to show the DOJ, and the nation, that we are paying attention; that we see, and mourn, the mistreatment of our community; and above all, that we demand the equal value and right to life for all people of color.
If you want to sign the petition you can find it here. Let your voice be heard.
2. When Justice Comes, It’s Never Too Late
I believe that it is never too late for justice or hope in Ramarley’s case, or for anyone else who has been a victim of police misconduct, intentional or otherwise. And because of that, we as a community can never stop fighting for truth and for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves.
The heartbreaking proof of this came in New York on Tuesday when Jonathan Fleming was freed after spending 24 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit. Fleming was tragically found guilty of the crime despite having an alibi that placed him out of state during the murders, despite evidence that the police purposely withheld, and despite a single eyewitness who later admitted to being coerced into giving false testimony for reduced jail time. For years his family and legal team worked to uncover the evidence that had been buried by the officers whose job it was to seek out justice not create more victims of their own.
3. And They Say Gun Violence is Down…
Let’s turn our attention to Philadelphia for a moment, where two 11-year-olds fell victim to gun violence within a few days of each other. And still people like to talk about decreases in gun violence like it’s a victory when we live in a world where a 2-year old child (barely a toddler!) can allegedly shoot and kill his 11-year old sister in their West Philadelphia home—all while her parents were in the next room. Or where an 11-year old boy, not far away in North Philadelphia, can be hit by a stray bullet from a drive-by shoot out while playing basketball in front of his doorstep. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t celebrate each life spared from the horror and heartbreak of gun violence, or recognize any decrease as progress, but that’s just what it is—progress.