More than 50 protesters endured rain over the weekend and huddled under a red tent in front of the Brooklyn housing project, Louis Pink Houses, where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed Black man, Akai Gurley, in a dark stairwell.
The group gathered on Saturday after Gurley’s funeral to protest yet another Black man lost at the hands of the people hired to protect them.
“We are all Akai Gurley,” protesters shouted. They raised yellow signs that read “Jail Killer Cops” and “Fists Up, Fight Back,” the Huffington Post reported.
It has become so prevalent—cops killing Black men—that, while Gurley’s death infuriated the protesters, Rosetta Jordan, 65, said she was not shocked by the news. Jordan, who lives in the neighborhood, told The Post that it is common for police to “harass” citizens from their neighborhood.
“That’s become the norm here. All you can do is pray for your kids and pray for yourself,” Jordan said. “They harass the children. They harass people for sitting in a bench. . . It’s like a prison.”
Jordan said she does not trust the cops.
“The cops are supposed to be there to help us, but instead they’re killing us,” she told The Post.
Even a former officer was among the protesters to show his support. Alex Salazar was an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department during the riots in 1992. He told the crowd that he “saw the city of Los Angeles almost burn down because people were tired of this.”
Family and friends of Gurley gathered for his funeral on Saturday. His mother, Sylvia Palmer, and stepfather, Kenneth Palmer, traveled from Florida for their son’s funeral, NY1 News reported.
“There’s nothing in this world that can heal my pain and my heartache and I pray to God that I get justice for my son because my son didn’t deserve to die like that,” Sylvia said.
In November, rookie officer Peter Liang fired his gun in a dark stairwell and killed Gurley as the officer claimed he was trying to open a door with his firearm already drawn and accidentally fired. Gurley’s death was called an accident by the New York Police Department.
“We want a full investigation of the situation from Mayor [Bill] de Blasio, and the police commissioner [William] Bratton,” family adviser, Kevin Powell, told NY1 News. “We feel that the officer should be charged with homicide.”
That charge may be difficult to come by, especially against a police officer. The lack of indictments in the grand jury decisions for the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases shocked people across the nation.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Friday that he’d impanel a grand jury to consider charges against Liang.