It was 10 years ago the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) was born following the killing in 2012 of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Martin was shot and killed in his own neighborhood by a self appointed vigilante — George Zimmerman.
Martin, who was unarmed and merely walking back home after getting snacks for himself and his younger brother from a convenience store, was followed by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.
Zimmerman, who racially profiled the teenager and would later say he was concerned about burglaries in the area, was not immediately arrested or charged for weeks and then was later acquitted — activating a new generation of outrage and protests against systemic racism, police and violence against “black lives.”
But the massive protests that surrounded the death of Martin would not stop the killings. The video of the police killing of George Floyd that was broadcast around the world in 2020 underlined that in communities across the United States and around the world, killings of innocent residents continue. Following the release of the video, BLM protests grew around the world with people in cities across the globe speaking up against similar brutality occurring in their communities.
In Los Angeles, there is a long list of people who have been killed at the hands of police — not just Black, but also Latino. Latino families in LA are now actively participating in protests.
Since 2000, according to homicide records from LA County medical examiner-corner, at least 1,003 people, mostly men, have been killed by law enforcement in LA County. Nearly 80% were Black or Latino and more than 93% were shot to death by police. Criminal charges against police are rare. Only two officers, between the years 2000 and 2020, have been charged as a result of shooting a civilian while on duty.
A “Rally for Remembrance” is being held this Saturday at 3 p.m. in Echo Park at the Lady of Lake statue for Mely Corado, a manager at Trader Joe’s in Silverlake.
In pursuit of a suspect, police opened fire, shooting into the store killing the 27-year-old in 2018. Police and city officials first said Corado was killed by the suspect’s (Gene Atkins) gun, but their claim was later found to be untrue. In 2020, the LA District Attorney released a report that found that the officers were “justified in using deadly force in an attempt to stop Atkins.”
Mely’s family has pursued legal action against the city and the police. The family filed a civil case in 2018, a trial is finally expected to begin this November.
“It has been five years and the city killed her and has never done right by her. We are calling for justice for her and every other person killed by police,” said Mely’s brother, Albert Corado, “A lot of people are killed by police and nothing is ever been done about it.”
Family members who lost loved ones attended the “#BLMTurns10 People’s Justice Festival,” at Leimert Park in LA last Saturday. The justice festival included a pop-up garden described as being “dedicated to families of people killed by police and white supremacist violence.”
But, whether because of the high temperatures or because the numbers of active BLM supporters are currently waning, the crowd was smaller than expected.
However, those attending who were dispersed at the various events during the festival all gathered, creating a large crowd when Dr. Cornel West, a theologian and civil rights leader for 55 years gave the festival’s keynote address at the main stage.
West is running for president as a third party People’s Party candidate in 2024. West, who is 70 years old, said in recent media interviews that he wants to “reintroduce America to the best of itself.” He said the nation’s two party system is “an impediment for working people in the United States and around the world.” He maintains both parties are tied to Wall Street, the Pentagon and Silicon Valley.
“There is an indifference to the plight of the vulnerable and it’s become a normalized way of life … we are wrestling with organized greed, institutionalized hatred — we saw it with our gay brothers and lesbian sisters and we see a brutalized indifference to the plight of the vulnerable. Sixty percent of those of all colors are struggling each day to put food on the table and are hardly doing it,” West said.
During the festival, discussions were held that reiterated the BLM position that has called for the abolishment of the police department, the juvenile justice system and Child Protective Services. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation announced a call to reinvest in Black communities that have been victimized by police brutality, unequal treatment in the criminal justice system, and incarceration.
“As we continue our push to defund the police, invest in Black communities and reimagine safety in our communities, we need our elected officials to focus on the people, not police,” said D’Zhane Parker BLM foundation board member.
“The safest places around the world don’t have more police, more jails, more prisons or harsher sentences … they have better access to economic opportunities, quality education, stable housing and health care.”