Traffic stops should end with safer streets, not cold-blooded executions.
Real justice would be living to make it home after a routine traffic stop, but for Patrick Lyoya’s family, they can only hope for accountability for the cop who brutally ended his life on April 4.
“Every time a young Black man or woman is arrested in this town, you put their name all over the news. Every time we’re suspected of something, you put our name out there. How dare you hold the name of a man that killed this man? We want his name!” Sharpton said. “How dare you pull your gun about some car tags?” he asked, demanding a federal investigation into the shooting.
Despite dozens of protests and national outcry about the brutal police violence caught on the viral dashcam video, the Grand Rapids Police Department announced that they would continue to protect the identity of the trigger-happy cop who fired the fatal shot unless he was charged with a crime. How convenient that after a cop makes himself judge, jury, and executioner, his fellow gang members in blue can protect him from suffering any consequences!
“We can’t bring Patrick back. But we can bring justice in Patrick’s name,” the Civil Rights icon continued. Sharpton explained Lyoya’s family fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 seeking safety and freedom war, but tragically, “ran into an America that we know too well.”
Nearly 1,000 grieving supporters attended the celebration of Patrick’s life at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ, where leaders from the Congolese community-led part of the service. Patrick’s white casket was closed during the funeral and draped with the flag of Congo.
A sign next to the casket with a picture of Patrick said the same message in English and Swahili as several mourners’ T-shirts,” It’s our right to live.”
“An unnamed police officer escalated a simple misdemeanor traffic stop into a deadly execution,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Lyoya family, at the service on Friday. “World leaders can’t condemn Russian soldiers shooting unarmed citizens in the back of the head in Ukraine, but then refuse to condemn police officers shooting unarmed Black citizens here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If it’s wrong that you do it in the Ukraine then it’s wrong that you do it in Grand Rapids.”
If the U.S. government can lead the global response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, it shouldn’t take demands from Al and Ben for federal intervention into what Patrick’s father Peter Lyoya described as “a genocide.” An independent autopsy determined that the unarmed refugee was shot in the back of the head while face down and straddled by the Grand Rapids officer.
The shooting is still under investigation by Michigan state police. Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker, who will determine whether to file charges based on their report, told the public not to expect a fast decision. Whether justice is delayed or denied, our expectations are disturbingly low after yet another senseless killing.
Watch Al Sharpton’s full eulogy below.
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