Thursday, June 2, 2016, supporters and allies gathered together in solidarity to walk from East 229th Street in the Bronx to One Police Plaza in Manhattan to demand justice for the murder of the 18-year-old teenager, Ramarley Graham. Like Michael Brown, Graham was another young Black male who activists say fell victim to police brutality that ended in his death.
Graham was shot Feb. 2, 2012, in the Bronx. Graham, who was in a neighborhood bodega, was noticed by cops. He was subsequently followed by officers from the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the 47th Precinct to his apartment. After busting down Graham’s door and entering the apartment without a warrant, 34-year-old officer Richard Haste confronted Graham, who reportedly ran to the bathroom. In response, Haste cornered him and fired one round from his weapon, killing the unarmed Graham in his own bathroom. After the incident, Haste was charged with manslaughter, but the charge was dismissed by Bronx County Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett for the prosecution’s “flawed instructions.” Even after a federal lawsuit and the 2015 settlement of $3.9 million to the Graham family, Haste still remains free of charges or punishments from either the American judicial system or the New York Police Department.
Sporting the color orange and various athletic gear, the crowd seemed driven for the hot June day, shouting various chants. Marchers expressed great camaraderie as they helped each other along the way, passing out water bottles and different fruits for hydration.
“No justice, no peace!” shouted Brother Shep, another marcher and previous Black Panther Party member in the early 1970s. Though he was one of the marchers in the back, Shep acted as a force of stability for the group as he led many songs and shouts.
“Ramarley was in my neighborhood. I’ve lived uptown in the Bronx since 1963,” Shep remarked as he explained his personal connection to the incident.
Shep then proceeded to talk about initiatives his community has made for preventive measures against police injustice.
“The campaign we have now for community control, we’re basically trying to have situations like that be avoided. We believe that if the police lived in the situations that they worked in, they would have an invested interest in the community.”
Councilman Andy King was also among the group, and he gave a few words about his thoughts on the matter.
“As a community, we have scaled back, but today it’s about keeping the torch lit,” King explained. “We’re not going to let Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton off the hook. The Commissioner made a commitment to us as a Council that he was waiting to finish his investigation before they could do anything.”
Perhaps most profound were the presence and words of Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, who spoke about her son’s death.
“We’re out here because it has been four long years since I’ve been fighting for justice for my son,” Malcolm stated.
“It seems that it’s going on deaf ears. We want Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio to know that we want these officers out of our communities. They shouldn’t be working in our communities. They shouldn’t have a job.”
As the march continued, there was no doubt that the marchers had the enthusiasm and momentum to carry them for miles. For Malcolm and other Black residents and allies who share her sentiments, Bratton and de Blasio are responsible for the perpetuation of unpunished police brutality on Black bodies in the city of New York.