Aurora, CO — Imagine for a moment that a handful of “bad apple” police officers attacked, choked, and forcibly drugged an innocent pillar of the community as he walked home from the store — killing him. Imagine that we are told these cops committed no crime when they attacked this innocent man and killed him. Then, imagine after cops got away with killing him, other cops went back to the scene to re-enact the killing, while taking pictures to mock his death. Imagine that people then become very upset and demand a stop to this police brutality and above the law murderous mentality. And, while these people are in the streets to demand cops stop killing innocent people, imagine they are arrested for it and face insanely long prison sentences as a result — as the killer cops walk free.
There is no need to imagine this, because it is exactly what happened in Aurora, Colorado.
Several protesters — who never harmed anyone, destroyed no property, and advocated no violence — are staring down the possibility of decades in prison for protesting the lack of charges for the cops who killed Elijah McClain as well as the other cops who mocked his death.
Though hundreds of people have been arrested for their role in protests, Joel Northam, 33, and Lillian House, 26, are seeing the extreme end of these arrests.
“I’m facing as many as 48 years in prison,” said House, an organizer in Denver and one of the six activists arrested and charged in September of last year. According to arrest documents, they were arrested in connection with crimes committed during June and July protests in Aurora – protests House and Northam contend were peaceful, 9 News reported.
“In this country, we’re supposed to have the right to protest peacefully,” House said in late December, four months after she and Northam were arrested. “Yet now, we’re facing some very serious retaliation and may be looking at decades in prison for fighting for justice in our community.”
They are being charged with kidnapping an entire police department because they protested at the police station and demanded two more officers involved in Elijah McClain’s death be fired.
They caused no damage and never physically touched anyone.
“We’ve done nothing wrong. We have committed no crimes, and we are not the violent ones here,” Northam said.
Since there were 18 police officers inside the department at the time of the protest, Adams County district attorney’s office alleges those charged with kidnapping “attempted to imprison” 18 officers — an outright laughable claim — but a claim that threatens to put these folks away for what could be the rest of their lives.
“We completely reject the characterization of what we’ve been doing as violent or dangerous. Or in any way anything other than a positive movement towards the betterment of our community,” said House.
House and Northam say these charges are an attempt to make an example out of them to scare others into silence.
“What really is at issue here,” House said, “is these forces do not want this protest movement to continue.”
“This is not just an attack on us as organizers and the organization,” Northam said. “This is an attack on a mass movement of thousands of people, of families, of community members.”
“Of course we value our freedom, and we don’t want to spend decades in prison. But really this is an attack on the fundamental rights which allow any person to protest, any person to speak out,” House said. It’s going to be a very long and costly battle ahead of us, but that is not going to be enough to make us tuck our tail between our legs and give up our rights to fight for our community.”
As TFTP reported, last year, Elijah McClain was killed by police after he was put in a chokehold and given the sedative ketamine. The incident began when someone in the neighborhood called the police because McClain was walking down the street with groceries while wearing a mask. McClain reportedly always wore the mask because he was anemic , and often got cold, and he was an introvert.
At the time of his death, he had never gotten so much as a speeding ticket in his life.
In his last few words on this planet, McClain could be heard saying, “I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me … I’m so sorry.”
He was innocent, successful, and a light in this often dark world, and police killed him for being different. Then, after they killed him, they went back to the scene of the crime and reenacted it for fun. This is not some case of a bad apple. This is systemic and sadistic, and it needs to change. Here’s how we can do that, right now.
If you would like to sign a petition to push for the charges to be dropped against these protesters, you can do so here.
Elijah McClain was brutally tortured & murdered by police in August 2019
The only people charged over his killing are community activists who organized mass peaceful demonstrations
They are now facing up to 60 yrs in prison for daring to call for justice
RELEASE DATE JAN 16 pic.twitter.com/SYZX527aVN
— BreakThrough News (@BTnewsroom) January 13, 2021