Monday night, I rode my bike out to downtown Brooklyn to Fulton Street, to Nostrand Street to join NYC Shut It Down for an action around the death of Sheneque Proctor, an 18-year-old girl found dead in the Bessamer, Alabama jail last November. Every Monday for two years they read the story of a different person who was killed by the police.
On a golden summer night, people from all over the city were there, Lulu from Judson Sunday School, John a former student of mine, Elson from MoRUS, and Barbara from everything.
The sky was still full of light and wonder.
We all talked on the corner of Fulton and Nostrand streets for a while and the action started.
“Fuck the Police” “Fuck the police!” we marched into the streets, where we told the story of Shenque’s horrible death.
“Mic check Mic check.”
“We are here because Black Lives Matter. We are part of the Black August, an organization started in honor of George Jackson.”
“I’ll read you some facts.”
Activists held signs declaring the facts.
Fact One) Sheneque Proctor was a black girl described by her mother as sweet and loving. She was a recent high school dropout.
Fact Two) On November 1st, 2014, she was at a party when six police officers arrived, arresting her for disorderly conduct, slamming her against a police car and shoving her into the back seat.
Fact Three) At jail, officers pepper sprayed Sheneque, putting her in an observation cell for continuous monitoring for 12 hours. She lay slouching. The next day she was found dead.
Fact Four) Instead of calling for medical help, officers watched her on CCTV. She was in a come for 12-hours before medics pronounced her dead.
Fact Five) The family’s case against the police was dropped because an Alabama judge said the officers had “qualified immunity.”
“Here in New York, the NYPD have killed 300 people since Amadou Diallo” was shot on February 1, 1999, setting off waves of protest and civil disobedience. There have only been a handful of convictions resulting in zero jail time.
I remember those rallies for Diallo and the radicalizing impact it had on all of us. Those February marches and acts of civil disobedience marches lasted all spring.
“All lives will matter when Black Lives Matter.”
People from around the community joined us as we walked, marching in Applebees to read the facts.
“How do you spell racist? NYPD!”
“I got to know everyone here when we spent a lot of hours together after getting arrested on the anniversary of Eric Garner’s death” recalled Lulu.
We marched into the night, reading the facts, walking through traffic, talking with people in the street, passing out flyers for the abolition forums in September. Kids joined us. People cheered from cars and windows above.
The movement continues a struggle dating back to the days of the Black Panthers and years before. Too many black and brown people are killed by the police every day. There is too much mass incarceration. The country is losing its soul over this rush to criminalize, punish and incarcerate.
At the police precinct, we circled up, held hands and lifted our arms.
Sheneque Proctor rest in power.