After losing children to police violence, mothers across the country are being paid tribute to during a digital event pushing police reform.
When George Floyd took his last breath with Derek Chauvin‘s knee in his neck, he called out for his mother, who had passed away two years prior to his murder.
Moms who lost their own children to police violence in which there was no such video footage to go viral wonder if their offspring cried the same pleas during their final breaths.
“When I saw the George Floyd … to see that grown man cry out for his mother, I literally just burst into tears. I just couldn’t believe it. Immediately, my mind and my thoughts were, what was Roshad [McIntosh] saying when he got shot, just laying there, bleeding out,” Cynthia Lane tells theGrio.
Lane’s 19-year-old son, Roshad, was shot and killed by Chicago Police on Aug. 24, 2014, a day she will never forget. Unfortunately, she is not alone.
Across the country, mothers continue to mourn the death of their children both minors and adults, at the hands of law enforcement. The Truth Hope & Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization founded by civil rights attorney Andrew M. Stroth, aims to provide the grieving mothers a platform but also push for legislative change and legal action.
“By the time I get the phone call from the family, someone has already been killed, or severely injured by the police. So I said, how can we create an organization, a charitable initiative, to lift up and amplify? How do we mobilize mothers across the country to advance police reform and influence new legislation?” Stroth said to theGrio on the creation of the organization.
In 2018, he got right to work. theGrio reported the Truth Hope & Justice Initiative marched on Capitol Hill in Washington DC to demand lawmakers push for legislation against police brutality. Over 100 mothers marched alongside Stroth to call for bipartisan police reform legislation.
Lane is one of the mothers who stands with the initiative and hopes through advocacy, her story and her son’s legacy lives on. She anticipates justice for his death and answers to the condition of his body.
“This is what I got when I lost my baby. Everyone was telling me what a nice man I raised. To me, he was quiet, very respectful, playful,” she told theGrio. “I miss him so much. He was spoiled. The night before he got killed, I’ll never forget. He laid in my bed, which he would always do, and want me to play with his hair. That always relaxed him for some reason.”
As we spoke to Lane, she still awaits news from Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). Her son’s case originally closed in October 2015 was reopened in 2017. CNN reported this August, COPA recommended Officer Saharat Sampim be fired for providing false statements about the shooting incident.
Vicki Lewis also awaits justice for her son Isaiah Lewis who was fatally shot by police in Oklahoma. After the story broke, she fought hard against the portrayal of her child by law enforcement. Isaiah was killed on April 29, 2019, after being shot and tased by police officers, just days before high school graduation.
“He’s my youngest, and he was very soft-spoken. Very intuitive, very quiet, he sneaks up on you. He’s always observing. He was a very loving individual. What I don’t appreciate about the whole situation is that they attempted to smear his name immediately, so I had to jump into defense mode,” Lewis told theGrio.
“One of the things that really upset me, my family, and his friends, was that they kept saying man, [Police] didn’t want to recognize him as a child. He was a 17-year-old kid. He was not a man.”
Lewis noted that in the same neighborhood where police killed her son, she has witnessed violent incidents before and after his death, where the subject was apprehended alive.
“After my son, there was a fireman who was high on drugs and running down the street with no clothes on, who fought them. This is all the same police department. They took him in without incident. After that, there was another college-aged young man whose girlfriend called and said he was high on drugs. He got into a shootout, [where] he was shooting at the police. But he’s alive, and he’s able to tell the story. The only difference is, my son, is Black.”
As protests emerged for Breonna Taylor, the community did not forget to call for justice for Isaiah Lewis. According to News9, protestors gathered outside the Edmond Police Department this September. Both officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing. One protestor informed the news outlet they do not agree.
“We just wanted to confirm that Edmond police need to be held accountable. We just want to keep this on people’s minds because every day it’s our reality, we can’t escape it,” the unidentified person said to News9.
Both mothers, as well as hundreds of others, are prepared to be honored during the Rise Up And Stand — A Tribute To Our Mothers virtual event. Macy Gray is set to host and perform during the tribute. Her organization, My Good, which also serves families impacted by police brutality, partnered with Truth Hope and Justice Initiative for the event.
Other performers include Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, joining Andra Day to perform her song, Rise Up. MC Lyte will also make an appearance during the inspirational event. The hour-long broadcast will stream on Facebook and Instagram on Friday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. ET.
A digital memorial, honoring the lives of the victims will also launch with the event and remain active until Mother’s Day 2021 with a new story shared daily.
“We’re bringing all these people together we expect to have between 500 and 1000 mothers tuned into our program and our call to action is twofold. One how do we advance the Justice In Policing Act,’ said Stroth.
The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act — which has already been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and pending in the Republican-controlled Senate — is described as “the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.”
Bans on no-knock warrants, limiting military equipment, and making lynching a federal crime are all included among the legislation’s comprehensive list of reform efforts.
“Our mission is to take these stories, share these stories, and then utilize those stories to advance policy changes.”
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