Mike Brown wasn’t armed, why did they shoot?

We chanted this yesterday as we marched down Dartmouth Street. We did other chants too, but this one made the most sense to me. Even though everybody in the street probably had a pretty good idea why the police shot Mike Brown, it was powerful to hear so many voices raised in a question that seemed shot through with anguish.

Here are some other things I heard.

“Every 28 hours somebody dies from police brutality. And they’re always Black, or brown.”

“Four years later we’re still waiting for the same justice.”

Carla Sheffield, mother of Burrell Ramsey-White, a Black man killed by police: “There’s nowhere to go when the police shoot your child. You suffer in silence.” Ms. Sheffield is raising money to buy a gravestone for her son.

Burrell’s stepfather: “I don’t know how I survived 58 years in this town.”

A rabbinical student held up two concepts from the Talmud: “Every human being is created in the image of God. To destroy one person is to destroy the entire world.”

Destiny, a young organizer from Villa Victoria: “It breaks my heart that we’re still fighting for the same things. How many more people have to die? We were here a year ago doing the same thing [for Trayvon Martin]. Our parents were doing it fifty years ago. Nothing has changed. . . . To white allies, thank you for being here. Because unfortunately your voice carries so much farther than mine. Go to your communities, go to your neighbors, your coworkers. And tell them what is happening to us.”

Celia, the nominal organizer: “I didn’t do shit. I posted something on Facebook, and social media did the rest. And I want to acknowledge two things: How much ignorance went into that [Facebook post], and how sorry I am.” (Behind me some white people shouted encouragingly, “Don’t apologize!” I wish they hadn’t. I think white people need to apologize a lot more.)

Carl Williams: “My name is Carl Williams, and this is [his colleague at the ACLU introduced herself]. We have the greatest job in the world. I’m going to tell you what we do, and you’re going to agree with me. Because what I do every day is sue fucking cops.” Carl said a lot more. He held up Youth Against Mass Incarceration, Black and Pink, City Life/Vida Urbana, and the Boston Workers Alliance as great organizations for people to join and support. He advised us to say “F the police, and the F stands for film” and got us all chanting, “We’re filming the police!”

A young man of color: “I’m not going to lie. I’m scared.”

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