06 Jul ‘Stop Killing Us’: Activists Bring Their Pain to State Capitol
“My child was killed by the community and her child was killed by the police,” said Asale-Haquekyah Chandler, left, about herself and Yolanda Banks, seen at the Stop Killing Us rally in Sacramento. (Antonio Harvey / California Black Media)
By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media
Last week, several California social and criminal justice organizations, as well as community-based groups, gathered for a rally at the state Capitol titled “Stop Killing Us.” Oakland-based All of Us or None organized the event — with the help of other partners across the state — to condemn police violence against African Americans.
AOUON is a project of Legal Service for Prisoners With Children, a nonprofit civil rights organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families.
Their demonstration was peaceful — done with official permission — and less spontaneous than recent explosive protests and riots triggered by the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minnesota, at the hands of police officers.
But it was charged with strong convictions and a solemn sense of grief, much like those protests.
“You mess with our children, I’ll come running,” said Yolanda Banks, the mother of Sahleem Tindle, who a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer killed on Jan. 3, 2018. He was 28.
“I have to march,” Banks continued. “We fight together.”
Banks frequently joins other grieving African American families from around California who have lost loved ones to police violence for rallies and vigils like the one AOUON held in Sacramento.
Participants arrived from Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Vallejo, Richmond, Oakland, San Francisco, and other places in the state. Most of the people in attendance were people who have been impacted by police violence.
On the front steps of the State Capitol, large black-and-white photos of people of color who have been victims of police deadly force were on display. According to AOUON, police violence has claimed the lives of 600 people in California over the last five years.
Asale-Haquekyah Chandler (pronounced “Ah-SAH-lah”) made the trip east to Sacramento from San Francisco to support Banks and the other families involved with “Stop Killing Us.” Chandler is hosting the “One Life Walk: A Silent Walk Parade Protest” in downtown San Francisco on July 28.
Chandler, who ran unsuccessfully for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 10 seat in 2018, has also been affected by violence, but not at the hands of law enforcement. Her 19-year-old son Yalani Chinyamurindi, while on a lunch break in San Francisco, was shot and killed, along with three individuals he knew.
The young men 20, 21, and 22 years of age were giving her son a ride back to his job when four gunmen surrounded the car they were in and opened fire.
Locally, around the Bay Area, the crime, which took place on Jan. 9, 2015, has been dubbed the “San Francisco 4.” Chandler said she and Banks (the two women knew each other well before their sons died) attended the event because see themselves as “fighters of justice and equality for all of our lives,” she said.
“We were fighting way before these children were murdered,” Chandler said. “So, the uniqueness we’re bringing to the table was meant to be. Though I hate to say it — because we lost (our children). My child was killed by the community and her child was killed by the police. We didn’t want to be in this club (mothers of children violently killed). But we are the right ones to be in this club.”
Banks, who lives on a rural farm in Calaveras County, told California Black Media that the events that AOUON stage are “painful but therapeutic.
The pain and passion expressed by Banks, Chandler, and other participants (who each read aloud the names of the departed) was evident. Several lawmakers emerged from the State Capitol to support the event and stand with the families. They included African American legislators: Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Sen. Steven Bradford (D- Los Angeles), and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento).
McCarty authored a constitutional amendment, ACA 6, which will be on the general election ballot in November. Known as the “Free the Vote Act,” ACA 6 will seek voters’ approval to restore voting rights to former inmates on parole.
AOUON and LSPC’s policy director Ken Oliver said the prison inmate-support organizations side with ACA 6.
“Yes, we support ACA 6,” Oliver told the large crowd at the rally. “We have 40 thousand people out here who can’t vote. So, understand when we talk policy. I have 80,000 sitting behind the wall right now, I have 8 million in California that have felony convictions, I have neighborhoods that are suffering. People can’t get jobs, and I have people out here getting killed by the police. That’s going to change.”