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International Days of Action Against Police Brutality

May 2, 2013

Black Autonomy Copwatch expresses our deep appreciation to all the people who participated in our March 15-16 International Days of Action Against Police Brutality.

At Friday’s rally at City Hall, the participants were surrounded by 13 large mock, black coffins, representing 13 of the 14 people who have been killed by Memphis police since January 2012. (There wasn’t time to make the 14th coffin, for Horace Whiting, shot to death by the police on March 10th.) Hats off to Jasmine Wallace, a member of Black Autonomy and a graduate student at the University of Memphis, whose idea it was to have the mock coffins at the rally and who organized the volunteers that made them. The coffins were so realistic-looking that people passing by on the street asked us about them, which gave us a chance to talk about the victims of Memphis police terror.

Shaquitta Epps, the niece and cousin of the late Delois Epps and her daughter, the late Makayla Ross, gave a moving account of how within minutes after her aunt and cousin left a family celebration on August 26, 2012, the family got a phone call informing them that Ms. Epps and 13-year-old Makayla had been killed in a car crash caused by a reckless-driving Memphis cop.

At the rally at City Hall, and later at 201 Poplar, anti-racist and anti-police brutality activists from Denver, Colo., Columbus, Ohio, Chicago, eastern and western Iowa, and Cincinnati, Ohio, spoke about their work and why they drove the many miles to Memphis to participate in our protest. We cannot thank them enough.  As you will see in some of the videos below, our march from City Hall to 201 Poplar was led by some young relatives of Delois Epps and Makayla Ross. It was a humbling experience to see these young children march for justice for their deceased loved ones.

As we stood in front of 201 Poplar, speakers included the brother of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd choked back tears as he described how his sister was shot to death in the back of the head in March 2012, by an off-duty Chicago cop. Her “crime,” in essence, was that she was walking down the street with some friends near the cop’s house, and he thought they were making too much noise.

Thanks to Dr. Femi Ajanaku, director of African and African-American Studies at LeMoyne-Owen College, for arranging space on the campus for Saturday’s mini-conference. Brother Fodalli Mboge, a veteran black community activist in Memphis and a member of Black Autonomy, gave a historical summary of police brutality in Memphis, and activists from other cities spoke in detail about their work and the challenges they face, including Chicago activists Crista Noel of Women’s All Points Bulletin and Mike Elliott, of the Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression. Also, plans were discussed about the Anti-Klan protest on March 30th. The Memphis Black Autonomy Federation has formed the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality, which is calling on anti-racist activists from all over the country to join people in Memphis to protest the white terrorist Klan. More details about the protest are forthcoming. Finally, plans were also discussed for forming an anti-police brutality network.

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