Thursday, February 2, 2017 was the fifth anniversary of the killing of Ramarley Graham. Five years ago, 18 year old Ramarley was gunned down in his own home by NYPD Officer Haste. Police officers followed Ramarley, broke into his home without a warrant and shot him dead in front of his grandmother and 6 year old brother. Ramarley was unarmed, wasn’t running and was innocent. Yet still, 5 years later, there has been no justice for his senseless killing. There has been no reprieve for his family and no accountability for the officer that shot him nor for the other NYPD responsible for the killing and surrounding misconduct.
In light of this lack of justice, Communities for Police Reform organized a 5 year anniversary action, calling for the firing of Officer Haste and the other NYPD officers involved in the killing. This came after almost a week straight of organizing supporters to come out and pack the NYPD administrative trial of Officer Haste, which presented another chance to have him take responsibility for his deadly actions. Though there have been attempts to bring Haste to justice before, they have largely gone nowhere. For example, four months after Ramarley’s killing, a grand jury charged Officer Haste with manslaughter only to have the results thrown out on a technicality.
In these five years, Ramarley’s mother, Constance Malcolm, has worked tirelessly to rally, speak out and put pressure on the NYPD and mayors office. In those same five years Office Haste was given a $30,000 pay raise. In her op-ed in the NY times, Ms. Malcolm shares her disappointment with those who have the power to call for justice, pointing out that “just days after Ramarley was killed, Mr. de Blasio said in a statement that “part of the healing process for the Graham family, and for the city as a whole, derives from a fair, speedy and transparent investigation. That work should begin immediately.” Yet since becoming mayor, de Blasio has refused to meet with Ms. Malcolm or ensure any accountability and wouldn’t even provide her with basic information about the trial and charges against the officers.
Supporters came out last Thursday in response to this lack of responsibility and accountability from the institutions that should protecting the rights of New Yorkers. They were joined by families of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD, including Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell, Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Hawah Bah, mother of Mohammed Bah, Carol Gray, mother of Kimani Gray, Natasha Duncan, sister of Shantel Davis, & Ang, and Nancy Pacheco sister-in-law of Jayson Tirado. A diverse array of organizations such as the MomsRising Arab American Association of NY, Black Lives Matter NYC, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum and many others endorsed, promoted, and/or turned out for the rally. MomsRising's VP and Chief Partnership & Diversity Officer, Monifa Bandele, moderated the rally, ensuring that supporters voices were heard.
Though this action marked yet another year gone by with no justice, Constance Malcolm commemorated it by standing resolute in the love for her son and her love for justice for all. At the end of the rally, Ms. Malcolm wove the threads of her own struggle with the urgent national moment facing our country. As an immigrant from Jamaica, and on the anniversary of her son’s death she chose to stand up to the anti-muslim and anti-immigration policies of our current administration. She led supporters on a march from Foley Square, where the rally was held, to Brooklyn to stand with the Yemeni bodega owners' strike in a powerful moment of solidarity
As mothers we work and toil to create a better world not only for our own children, but for all children to live and grow in. Ms. Malcolm had her son taken from her, she can no longer create a better world for Ramarley to see. Yet she has taken her love for her son to push for a better world for us all. A world that values justice, freedom and liberty for all people. A world without fear, violence and bigotry. At times it seems as if we couldn’t be further away from that world Constance is fighting for, but we should look to her actions as an example of what is possible. The fight is continuing, we must keep moving toward a better world, which includes calling for accountability from those who were meant to protect us and our communities.
We must strategize, show up and stand together. Join us in this struggle for justice by signing this petition that will be delivered to Mayor de Blasio. We must tell him that it’s time to act on his promise of police accountability, we must tell him that we won’t stop fighting. http://action.momsrising.org/sign/Ramarley-Graham-Petition/?source=blog
Five years is long enough, we need justice now.