Coffins Brought To DC Police To Protest Police Killings

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Above: #BlackLivesMatter protest moves from US Department of Justice to the DC police headquarters carrying three coffins through downtown Washington, DC. Source Witness Against Torture.

The Washington, DC based Hands Up Coalition DC along with Witness Against Torture delivered coffins at its weekly ‘Justice Monday Vigil’ to the US Department of Justice and the DC Metro Police Headquarters on January 12, 4:00 PM.

Protest at US Department of Justice on January 12, 2014. Source Witness Against Torture FLICKR

Protest at US Department of Justice on January 12, 2014. Source Witness Against Torture FLICKR

The two groups brought coffins marking the deaths of three African-Americans killed by police to the doors of the Justice Department. The coffins highlighted the deaths of two mentally ill African Americans recently killed in police custody, Tanisha Anderson and Matthew Ajibade. The protest honored the life of unarmed Emmanuel Okutuga killed by police.

The groups were addressed by the mother of Emmanuel Okutuga, killed in 2011 in Silver Spring, Maryland. She described the deep sorrow resulting from her son’s death and, holding back tears, said the reason she was there was because “no mother should ever have to go through this type of pain.”

Mother of Emanuel leads procession at US Department of Justice with representatives of Witness Against Torture and Hands Up Coalition DC. Source Witness Against Torture.

Mother of Emanuel leads procession at US Department of Justice with representatives of Witness Against Torture and Hands Up Coalition DC. Source Witness Against Torture.

“While most Americans observed the year-end holiday season, the slave patrol/ police force did not,” said Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo of Hands Up Coalition DC. Citing the deaths of Matthew Ajibade, a bipolar sufferer who died in solitary confinement in Savannah, Georgia on New Years Day; and a January 2 ruling of homicide as the cause of death of schizophrenic, Tanisha Anderson in a Cleveland jail late last year. “Sadly,” Coleman-Adebayo added, “we mourn two more blacks killed while in police custody.”

Kymone Freeman, the co-founder of We Act Radio and a member of Ferguson DC spoke about the need for “community control of police” He said this included civilian review board with the power to indict police officer as well as to fire them. “The open season on African Americans must come to an end.”

Protesters march from Department of Justice to DC police headquarters. By Elias Weston-Farber.

Protesters march from Department of Justice to DC police headquarters.

Members of Witness Against Torture, which had been conducting a week of actions in the nation’s capital, spoke about how white silence has allowed not only police abuse in the United States in communities of color, but has also allowed drone killings, torture and arrests without charges in many parts of the world. They also conveyed the stories of men still detained at Guantanamo, despite being cleared for release by the US government years ago. They called on people to speak out against the state-terrorism of the United States and demanded the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison.

Protest moves inside DC police headquarters to obstruct access for 28 minutes. By Elias Weston-Farber.

Protest moves inside DC police headquarters to obstruct access for 28 minutes.

After marching and rallying at the US Department of Justice the groups marched to the DC Metropolitan Police Headquarters. Members of Witness Against Torture went inside the building and obstructed the entrance 28 minutes, in recognition that a person of color is killed by police or vigilantes every 28 hours in the United States. They recited the names of dozens of victims of police violence and spoke the words of men indefinitely detained in Guantánamo Bay calling for justice. Activists from the Hands Up Coalition DC stood outside chanting and singing.

Outside the police headquarters. By Elias Weston-Farber

Outside the police headquarters. By Elias Weston-Farber

“Grand juries refused even to indict the police murderers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, just like the Justice Department has refused to prosecute CIA torturers, whose crimes are detailed in the Senate report,” said Marie Shebeck, from Chicago Illinois. “Where is justice if we are not equal under the law, if some people can literally get away with murder and torture.”

“We came to the US Senate, the Justice Department, and a DC jail,” says Uruj Sheikh, from New York City, “to convey with a new voice that racism and Islamophobia, torture tactics in US prisons like extended solitary confinement and the torture of indefinite detention at Guantánamo are two parts of the same system of white supremacy and militarized violence.”

Justice Mondays began after grand juries failed to indict the police officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo and Eric Garner in New York City in order to seek justice from the US Department of Justice.

For more information:

Hands Up Coalition DC

Witness Against Torture

Speakers at the #Black Lives Matter DOJ and DC police event

  • PigStateNews

    At least 39 people have been killed by U.S. police since January 1, 2015.
    At least 1,100 were killed in 2014.
    At least 1,902 have been killed since May 1, 2013.
    KilledByPolice(dot)net