The Brooklyn NAACP and other community groups gathered at City Hall Tuesday evening to express their disappointment in the Ferguson grand jury’s decision, and called for a swift investigation into the shooting death of Akai Gurley.
The 28-year-old man was shot and killed by a police officer in a dark stairwell last Thursday. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has said Gurley wasn’t doing anything wrong when Police Officer Peter Liang accidentally shot him in the chest. The medical examiner’s office ruled Gurley’s death a homicide on Tuesday.
“We condemn this killing. This was murder,” said Jamaica NAACP leader Leroy Gadsden. “We reject wholeheartedly the excuse about a dark stairwell … we reject this notion about an accident.”
About 40 people gathered lit candles on City Hall’s steps, and chanted that “black lives matter.”
“No other community suffers this loss of life across the country,” said L. Joy Williams, president of the Brooklyn NAACP. “We do not want to be here to light candles.”
Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director at Alliance for Quality Education, said she worries about her youngest child who is 14 every time he leaves the house, and wonders if her 2 year old grandchild will have to fear the police when he grows up.
“The bottom line is this has to stop,” Ansari, 47, said.
Vernon Hutchinson, 34, said that he rallied for Gurley and others shot by the police because he wants his daughters to grow up and find the world a better place.
“It’s humiliation, the idea you’re criminalized for who you are, how you dress, the things you say, the manner which you say things,” Hutchinson said. “You don’t know that today is the day that you won’t come home and see your children, you won’t see your parents, and that’s a sad thing.”