*Afterthought 100—They All Have Names
For the past few weeks, a small group of people has gathered in Lopez Island’s tiny village on Sunday afternoons. Most have carried signs protesting police brutality, racism, and white supremacy. Recently, organizers called for help to paint signs with the names of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) around the U.S. who have been killed by law enforcement officers.
This installation has been growing along a road at the Village entrance. Sadly, a local woman who opposes Black Lives Matter, pulled up the stakes and threw the signs to the ground. After organizers repaired and replaced the signs, she and her husband defaced them with black spray paint and allegedly turned the spray cans of paint on some of the organizers.
The community’s response? Repaint the existing signs, add more, and install the growing number and adorn them with fresh, local flowers.
A friend shared the list of names and information written on the signs. There are so many more names—of people gunned down by heavily-armed police. May we remember and honor their names and their lives.
Trayvon Martin – 2-26-12
17-year-old Black high school student; played football, was good at working on bikes, and wanted to be a pilot. Killed while walking through a neighborhood in Sanford, FL
Willie McCoy – 2-9-19
20-year-old Black man; made his living as a rapper. Killed by six police officers in Vallejo, CA, who shot 55 rounds in the space of 4 seconds.
Dontre Hamilton – 4-30-14
31-year-old Black man. He was a loving son and brother who suffered from schizophrenia. Killed by Milwaukee, WI police. They were called because he was sleeping on a park bench.
Manuel Ellis – 3-3-20
33-year-old Black man. He was a father and a talented musician who played drums in his church. Killed by Tacoma, WA police. His last words were, “I can’t breathe.”
Stonechild Chiefstick 7-3-19
39-year-old Chippewa Cree man and father and a community member of the Suquamish Tribe. Killed in a crowded park by Poulsbo, WA police. He was carrying a screwdriver.
Dominique Rem’mie Fells – 6-8-20
27-year-old Black, transgender woman. A dancer, an artist, and aspiring fashion designer. Brutally murdered in Philadelphia, PA.
Riah Milton – 6-9-20
25-year-old Black, transgender woman. She was a loving aunt who worked as a home health aide. Murdered in Liberty Township, OH.
Tony McDade – 5-27-20
38-year-old Black, transgender man. Friends gave him the nickname “Tony the Tiger.” He lived with energy and a big heart. Killed by Tallahassee, FL police
Rayshard Brooks – 6-12-20, the night before his daughter’s 8th birthday celebration
27-year-old Black man and father. A hard worker, loyal. Killed by Atlanta police officers in an altercation and after 30 minutes of talking peacefully with them.
George Floyd- 5-25-20
46-year-old Black man and father. Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, asphyxiating him. “I can’t breathe,” he pleaded several times.
Breonna Taylor- 3-13-20
26-year-old Black woman, EMT. She loved to make a difference in people’s lives. Killed by Louisville, KY police on a no-knock search warrant. She was sleeping in her bed.
Philando Castile –7-6-16
32-year-old Black man, school cafeteria supervisor. Role model to hundreds of kids. Killed during a traffic stop in St. Anthony, MN while following officer’s directions.
Eric Garner –7-17-14
27-year-old Black man and father, known as a “gentle giant.” Unarmed, killed by NYPD. Said “I can’t breathe” 11 times while in a chokehold and pinned down by officers.
Michael Brown – 8-9-14
18-year-old Black man. Just graduated from high school. Planned to enroll in trade school. Killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO.
Latasha Harlins – 3-16-91
15-year-old Black girl and a high school student. Attacked and murdered in Los Angeles, CA by a corner store owner over a $2 orange juice she intended to pay for.
John T. Williams – 8-30-10
50-year-old Nuu-chah-nulth man; a seventh-generation woodcarver. He had a hearing impairment. Killed by a Seattle police officer as he was crossing the street and didn’t hear the order to drop his carving knife
Sandra Bland –7-13-15
28-year-old Black woman and civil rights activist. Arrested for a minor traffic violation. Found hanged in her jail cell three days later in Waller County, TX. Many questions are still unanswered about her death.
Tamire Rice – 11-22-14
12-year-old Black boy shot by police while playing in a park in Cleveland, OH.
Alton Sterling – 7-5-16
37-year-old Black man and father. Loved to cook — and enough to share with everybody. Killed by Baton Rouge, LA police officers while pinned down and immobilized.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones – 5-16-10
Seven-year-old Black girl, sleeping on the couch next to her grandmother. Killed by Detroit SWAT team in a raid on the wrong apartment. The raid was being filmed for a 48-hour detective challenge TV program.
Rekia Boyd – 3-21-12
22-year-old Black woman. Remembered for her smile and “the way her presence always lifted the room with joy and love.” Murdered amongst her friends by an off-duty Chicago police detective.
Jonathan Ferrell – 9-14-13
A 24-year-old Black, former football player, shot 12 times and killed by Charlotte police after he went in search of help after a car accident.
Ahmaud Arbery – 3-32-2
A 25-year-old Black man shot and killed while jogging in Brunswick, GA by a former policeman and his son.
Eric Logan 6-16-19
54-year-old Black man shot in South Bend, IN. Officer never turned on his body cam and was never charged.
Eleanor Bumpurs –10-29-84
66-year-old Black, disabled grandmother shot by New York police during an eviction. Housing officials decided to forcefully evict her with police before hospitalizing her for mental and physical disabilities. Mother of 7. Grandmother of 10.
Mya Hall 3-30-15
27-year-old Black, trans woman who was killed by police. A sex worker in Baltimore, MD. Consistently misgendered and misnamed by media after her killing.
Arthur McDuffie –12-21-79
33-year-old Black man beaten by police. Died from injuries from the hands of the police officers trying to arrest him. A successful salesman and former Marine. His death incited the Miami riots of 1980.
Kayla Moore – 3-12-13
41-year-old Black trans woman killed by 6 Berkley, CA police officers responding to a mental health call made by her friend. An auntie who loved her baby niece. Described as a punk rocker babe by her closest friends.
Michelle Casseaux – 8-14-14
50-year-old Black woman fatally shot by police during a mental health wellness check-in, Phoenix, AZ.
May they rest in power.
*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets.