Over a thousand protesters gathered in Manhattan to march against police brutality on Saturday, October 24. Holding portraits of men and women killed by police, the demonstrators peacefully marched two miles to Times Square, past the NYPD officers lining the streets.
Women in hijabs, a Jewish youth group, LGBT activists, students and more lined up to march with predominantly African-American families of victims. This was the capstone of a three-day long national action organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, an organization created to combat the disproportionate incarceration of black and Latino Americans. Notable attendees included filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, activist-academic Cornel West and Revolutionary Communist Party founding member Carl Dix. Alongside the better known faces, the stories of individuals shone through. From within the monolith of the march, here are the faces of Rise Up October.
“Everything I protest, I win,” said Marvin Knight, veteran demonstrator. “If you don’t protest, don’t anything happen!” Knight has been demonstrating since 1964, when he took part in the civil rights movement. More recently, Knight’s focus has been on police brutality. Saturday, Knight’s sign read: “America was never great for blacks, Indians, whites perhaps.”
“I have lived and worked in Harlem since 1970, and I have lost countless African-American and Latino friends to police brutality,” said Jim White, a lawyer for psychiatric patients. White said that from stop and frisk to “ridiculous charges about disturbing the peace,” police harassment is mainly about intimidation that he wants stopped. “It’s a weekly occurrence amongst people I love and respect.”
Maria Sanchez came from Cambridge, Mass. to support the Rise Up October march. A member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Sanchez came on a chartered bus alongside Harvard students, UMass students, peace groups and other activists. “It is immoral. It is criminal. It must stop,” said Sanchez.
Alberto Hernández is a self-defined queer, transfeminine person of color. Hernández came to the Rise Up October march with the Safe OUTside the System Collective, an LGBT anti-violence program. He said that most of his friends have been stop and frisked, harassed and questioned about their gender by police officers. “I do not feel safe around police,” said Hernández. “I do not believe that I need police. When I need to build safety in my life, I organize with community members like me.”
Phillipe-Edner Marius works in New York State Senator Bill Perkin’s office doing public education research. Born in Manhattan, raised in Queens and living in Staten Island, Marius is a hard-core New Yorker. “My poster is meant to send a message that’s not apologetic or pacifist,” said Marius. He quickly clarified, “But it’s not inciting violence!”
Beth Lamont, 86, walked steadily alongside other protesters. “We are all in it together, no matter what color we are,” said Lamont. A humanist chaplin, Lamont took part in the civil rights protests, as well. “This is quite similar,” she said. “Last time it took a presidential decree to make a difference.”
Cameron Tillery came to the march Saturday because of the recent death of Corey Jones. Jones was shot by a plainclothes police officer in Florida last week after his car broke down. “I’ve been on the side of the highway and not gotten help from police–just questions,” said Tillery. The last time Tillery attended a protest was at the conclusion of the Treyvon Martin case in 2013.
Simon Moya-Smith is a citizen from the Oglala Lakota Nation, now living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Smith carried a poster of his cousin, Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by a police officer in Oklahoma. “We’re here standing in solidarity, but also to raise awareness of police brutality in Indian country,” he said. Smith said that though Native Americans are the smallest ethnic group in the U.S., they are more likely to die at the hands of police than any other ethnic minority.
Gem Isaac and Shannon Jones
Gem Isaac and Shannon Jones came with the group Bronxites for NYPD Accountability, which pushes for transparent NYPD civilian complaint reports. They said that their group has attended 40 police precinct council meetings so far. Jones, the founder, said that police brutality affects her as the mother of an adult African-American son. She says her son was brutalized by three undercover police officers. “If it doesn’t happen to you today, it’ll happen to you tomorrow.”
Tyler Sims, 17, came from Illinois to be a part of the Rise Up October march in place of his grandfather. Sims arrived at 10 a.m. after a 13 hour bus ride, and planned to leave that evening. Sims said his friend DeSean Jackson was shot dead by police last year. Said Sims, “The time to make a difference is long overdue.”