New York, NY – Thursday morning hundreds of people gathered in Times Square to launch a three-day nationwide protest dubbed #RiseUpOctober.
Families of victims of police killings, as well as activists, intellectuals, and celebrities, came together to kick-off the protest movement with a “Say Their Name” rally. The gathering was held to commemorate the lives of people unjustly killed by police, with the names of around 250 men, women, and children who died at the hands law enforcement being read aloud.
Academy Award-winning film director Quentin Tarantino took to the stage during the rally to read the names and stories of numerous victims killed by police. Tarantino honored 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed by Cleveland police for holding a BB gun.
He went on to highlighted the case of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old unarmed black man who died after being given a “nickel ride” by Baltimore police after being arrested in April. His death sparked days of protests that engulfed the city.
According to a report by Al Jazeera:
Tarantino also highlighted the deaths of Antonio Guzmán López, a 38-year-old unarmed man shot and killed by San Jose State University Police on Feb. 21, 2014 after officers said he was “acting strange”; and Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black teenager killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, 2014, sparking a national movement to protest police treatment of minorities. Those demonstrations evolved into a civil rights movement known as “Black Lives Matter” and resulted in attempts to form a unified legal strategy against police violence.
In spite of the growing awareness and nationwide recognition of rampant police brutality, the government has failed to rein in a deadly law enforcement apparatus, which rarely is held accountable for their actions.
“Rise Up, Rise Up to end police brutality and murder!” said American playwright Eve Ensler, best known for writing feminist play “The Vagina Monologues.”
“We fear for our lives every day,” said LaToya Howell, mother of Justus Howell — a 17-year-old black teenager shot twice in the back while fleeing a Zion, Illinois, police officer. “We’ve been shown … that your child can be killed by the way they look,” Howell said.
Hertencia Peterson, the aunt of Akai Gurly, an unarmed 28-year-old black man shot by a rookie NYPD officer in the stairwell Gurley’s housing project after being startled, said that her nephew “loved life” and was a loving father to his two children.
Peterson recalled that her nephew “was a mama’s boy, “ and that, “he did not commit any crime but … my nephew is dead and my sister is broken until she leaves this world.”
“The entire justice system needs to be dismantled,” Peterson added.
Tragically the same day the protest was held, the mother of Freddie Gray reportedly attempted to take her own life, highlighting how these deaths reverberate far beyond the initial victims and devastate entire families.
At the same time the NY rally was taking place, in Florida hundreds of community members took to the streets to protest the killing of Corey Jones, a 31-year-old African-American musician gunned down when he encountered a plain clothes police officer after his car broke down.
Highlighting the absurdity of what has become commonplace in America, victims remembered at the rally ranged in age from an 11-month-old baby to a 92-year-old woman, shot dead when officers got the wrong address on a drugs bust.
For Friday, organizers have planned a “Shut Down Rikers” protest. Then on Saturday, a national march against police violence is scheduled to take place.
The American people are tired of being abused and slaughtered by those entrusted with their protection. The combination of a lack of transparency and accountability has created a perfect storm, which allows those that wear a badge to abuse and kill without consequence.
If you would like to support the #RiseUpOctober movement you can donate here.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has been published on Ben Swann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPressNews and maany other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu