After police arrested 50 people during the third day of protests over the police shooting death of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, his family and Brooklyn community leaders appealed to local youth to hold their vigils and demonstrations without the violence.
“It’s a tough time for the community,” family spokesman, Rev. Gilford Monrose, told the Associated Press. “But the family and myself do not condone the violence.”
The family had previously announced that it would not speak publicly as long as the violent protest continued, but then said that Gray’s mother, Carol, and other relatives would hold a news conference Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn.
At Wednesday night’s vigil, most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct. Police said an officer suffered a gash in the face after he was hit by an object tossed from a building.
While the protests began peacefully, they have grown violent as crowds confront police officers holding watch. Friends and family of Gray and young people in the neighborhood have expressed doubts over the police version of events, saying they did not believe that Gray would point a gun at police.
The medical examiner has said Gray was hit seven times by police bullets, and had wounds in both the front and back of his body, including his shoulder, rib cage, forearm and legs.
Police say Gray walked away from the group he was with on Saturday night when he saw an unmarked police car. Police claim he was acting suspiciously, which caused the plainclothes officers to approach him. At that point, according to police, Gray pointed a .38-caliber handgun at them and they opened fire.
Though the names of the officers have yet to be released, those involved were black and Hispanic. They have been placed on administrative duty.
Police say a gun was recovered at the scene. But Gray’s family doesn’t believe the police account.
“My cousin was scared of guns,” said Ray Charles, 35, Gray’s cousin. “I honestly just want justice. They didn’t need to shoot him like that.”
Franclot Graham, whose teenage son, Ramarley Graham, was shot and killed after police chased him into his Bronx home last year, appealed to the youth to curtail violence at the demonstrations.
“I’m not going to tell people don’t be angry, because we’re all angry,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “It’s OK to vent, but you have to respect the family’s wishes and be peaceful.”
The protests on Monday night led to looting in local stores. Police released video of people throwing fruit and stealing, and a cashier cowering in a corner as people looted a shop.
“I don’t think that should have any relationship to a peaceful demonstration,” police Commissioner Ray Kelly said of the thefts.
Rickford Burke, president of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy and an organizer of Wednesday’s vigil, condemned the looting but said the disorderly response came from deep frustration. Police officers regularly harass and target young black men in the community, he said.