The Million Moms March kicked off in Washington D.C. and provided a visual bit of evidence against all those who insist fatal acts of violence from the police are isolated, rare incidents.
For those who are only recently becoming aware of the nature of police brutality, it may seem as if the number of Black citizens killed by police is minimal. Only the names of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice or John Crawford may pop into their heads.
But the group of mothers, in yellow shirts holding posters and balloons, served as a reminder of just how many Black lives have been stolen by law enforcement.
Rekia Boyd. Ayana Jones. Yvette Smith. Corey Stingley. Jonathan Ferrell. Cary Terrell Ball Jr. Emmanuel Okutuga. Kathryn Johnston. Akai Gurley. Mya Hall. Ezell Ford. Miriam Carey. Joseph N. Cooper Jr. Larry Jenkins. Eleanor Bumpus. Kendra James. Dante Parker. Jordan Baker. Dakota Bright. McKenzie Cochran. Derek Williams. Charles Smith. Rumain Brisbon. Kajieme Powell. Tyree Woodson. Kenneth Harding. Victor White III. Deion Fludd. Kimani Gray. Shantel Davis. Kendrec McDade. Ramarley Graham… this list could go on and on. It could fill enough books to mimic the type of volume usually reserved only for encyclopedia sets. The names of Black citizens being killed by police does not always make it to national news, but it does, unfortunately, still happen frequently.
This is why there were enough mothers, stripped of the usual joy typically associated with Mother’s Day, to fill the streets of D.C. in hopes to “honor and lift” the children that are now only with them in spirit rather than with them at the dinner table.
“This is a call for everybody to wake up,” said Maria Hamilton, the founder of Mothers for Justice United who helped organize the march, as reported by USA Today. “We are here on behalf of our babies to tell the United States government that we aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t going to continue to keep burying our babies. Do something and do it now.”
Hamilton created the organization after she faced a parent’s most gut-wrenching nightmare. She had to lay her 31-year-old son, Dontre Hamilton, to rest after a Milwaukee police officer shot the mentally ill Black man 14 times.
Hamilton was asleep on a public bench when the officer approached him. A short struggle ensued before more than a dozen bullets pierced Hamilton’s body. Today, Hamilton wants to put an end to such nightmares for all parents and help prevent other officers from turning Mother’s Day into a grim reminder of the loss of a child.
In addition to staging protests like the Million Moms March, Mothers for Justice United also focuses on attempting to make changes through legislation and community building.
Every mother, loved one and community activist had their own story but they seemed to share a similar pain and frustration with the invisible targets that have been slapped on the backs of Black citizens.
March participants touted signs with a variety of messages.
“End white privilege,” one sign, being held high by a white woman, read.
Other signs did their best to cram the many names of the fallen onto giant poster boards, but it didn’t seem like any OfficeMax or Walmart had a sign big enough to even come close to successfully completing such a list.
Some messages included, “My child’s race should not affect their safety,” “What if I took YOU away from your mother,” “Black women matter too,” “Stop racist police terror,” “Stop the war on Black America” and, of course, a vast collection of signs simply donned the names of specific loved ones that were victims of police brutality.