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Stories of pain and persistence - National Stop Police Brutality gathering convenes in Atlanta

By Eric Ture Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Nov 10, 2017 - 10:20:49 AM

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Dozens of demonstrators, Oct. 22, raised their collective voice calling for an end to police brutality on the downtown streets of Atlanta, Georgia Photo: Ayshah N. Ture Muhammad

ATLANTA—Dozens of organizers from around the country converged on Atlanta offering their voice and support for the hundreds of families affected by police brutality and “murder by police,” during the “National Stop Police Brutality” weekend.

The four-day gathering held Oct. 19-22 consisted of rallies, a silent march, town-hall meeting, a books and breakfast program and culminated with a National Day of Resistance, that began outside the headquarters of cable news outlet CNN. Then in an act of civil disobedience, an impromptu yet highly vocal group of marchers took to the streets of Olympian Park Blvd. and Marietta St., disrupting traffic and bringing it to a standstill.

At the time of the traffic disruption, more than 60,000 people were attempting to make their way to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for an Atlanta United Soccer game. A police squad car wedged itself between the forward moving protesters and vehicles. Commuters in vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the protesters could be seen reaching out for flier information and honking their car horns in support of victims of police brutality and the horrific stories shared by surviving families. The event was sponsored by the International Black Freedom Alliance (IBFA) founded in 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri. The group consists of community organizers globally that have decided to “create an umbrella for like minded Black people to organize our own liberation.”

“We wanted to create a blueprint that our people could use right now to begin to defeat the system of White Supremacy,” according to its website, Michael Brown Sr., father of Michael Brown Jr., and Monteria Robinson, mother of Jamarion Robinson, whose children died at the hands of police, participated.

Jamarion was killed Aug. 5 when the reportedly bipolar and schizophrenic 20 year old was gun-downed by U.S. Marshals then afterward was handcuffed before reportedly then being dragged down a flight of stairs to the street. Ms. Robinson shared the pain and anguish she still feels

“We hired an investigator as well as some experts. They came in and processed the scene and come to find out that my son was shot 76 times,” after the firing of more than 95 rounds, said the aggrieved mother.

Town Hall panel held at West Hunter Street Baptist Church (l-r: Torey Russell of IBFA, Dawn O’Neal of Fight for $15?WRFG commentator; Marcus Coleman, Founder of Save Ourselves, Zacharias H. Muhammad, Founder, Unite or Die/360 We God; NAACP 2nd VP Attorney Gerald Griggs. Standing, moderator, Rev., Dr. F. Keith Slaughter of the Beloved Community Church of Atlanta. Photo: Eric Ture Muhammad

Families address the need to end gun violence. Family of Wali Clanton, Jr. killed in 2015, while at a house party addressed the crowd. Photo: Ayshah N. Ture Muhammad

The family still doesn’t know why Jamarion was targeted by marshals and have concluded it could only have been a case of mistaken identity. “My son only stands at 5 feet 6 inches at 110 pounds,” she told those gathered at the rally.

“Come to find out he was shot six times in the palm of his right hand, five times in the palm of his left hand,” she demonstrated to the crowd. Adorned in a picture of Jamarion on a tee shirt that read, “One year later and still no answers,” she went on to explain after dragging him down the stairs in handcuffs, cops then laid him on the living room floor of his girlfriend’s apartment with no medical attention for more than eight hours.

“It hits me to my core at times because they are monsters. They are supposed to be here to protect and serve our community. But, instead they go around killing our kids. And we are here today to show that we as a community will stand together. We will stand united. We are tired of this,” she said.

“I’ve been attorney here for 14 years and I have never witnessed a crime scene like this,” commented local NAACP Second Vice President, Attorney Gerald Briggs. Speaking during the town hall meeting held at West Hunter Baptist Church in Southwest Atlanta Oct. 20, Mr. Briggs was joined on the panel by Tory Russell, director of the International Black Freedom Alliance; Dawn O’Neal, WRFG radio host and activist; Zacharias H. Muhammad of Unite or Die/360 We God and Marcus Coleman, founder and CEO of Save Ourselves.

“You can see bullet holes and smeared blood, all the way up the stairs … this was an execution,” charged Atty. Briggs. The panel was moderated by Rev. Dr. F. Keith Slaughter of The Beloved Community Church of Atlanta, Inc., which also hosted the Oct. 21, Books and Breakfast program, where the broader community gathered sharing messages of encouragement, support and the enormity of what grieving families and communities endure. Other families shared their stories and their continued fight for answers and justice for their loved ones during the town hall. “The police never knocked on the doors. They never came in. They never announced themselves. They just surrounded the church and started shooting,” recounted Ms. Tangjla Lippett Bradley, who traveled from Orlando, Florida, to tell her story.

On January 6, 2013, Orlando drug agents, according to published reports, “responded without supervision to a week-old tip,” resulting in the shooting death of her son, 19-year-old Karvas Gamble, Jr., a graduate of Oak Ridge High School.

Officers surrounded the Garden of Praise Ministry building in Orlando allegedly without warning and opened fire on the building, striking young Karvas who was working inside the church.

“Our conclusion bluntly is that this should not have happened,” a grand jury wrote regarding Mr. Gamble’s death. Two years later, the family filed a wrongful death suit, which the city of Orlando reportedly settled, but not before absolving the officers in question from any wrongdoing. On May 16, 2016, Jabril Robinson, 23, was in an argument with his longtime girlfriend when her mother called the police. Jabril had already left the Clayton County, Georgia, residence when police caught up to him, ultimately firing five shots into the young man’s back and one piercing the back of his head. Police claimed it was self-defense after Jabril had run away then allegedly aimed a gun at officers.

“I wasn’t allowed to see my son. I wasn’t allowed to identify him. Like the other mother said, I didn’t see my son (again), until I saw him in the casket,” mother Daphne Robinson said as she told her story. “They claimed he had a weapon. … It’s been a year and four months now since the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) has been investigating my son’s case,” said Ms. Robinson.

“They called me one day and said they were finishing up their investigation and turning everything over to the Clayton County DA,” she lamented. “I’m trying to get Jabril’s story out there. I’m trying to get support and I am trying to support others out here. It’s just hard when you have limited or no support, you know,” she said.

“Are you outraged. Are you outraged!” shouted organizer and activist Yonasda Lonewolf to the audience. “As God’s children, you know what pain feels like. Love is in our DNA. It should be in our DNA,” she said.

It is that same pain, she added. The four-day gathering united and allowed the outraged to become one voice on behalf of the families of loved ones affected by police brutality, misconduct and extrajudicial killings, she said.