Had Charles been alive he would have been at the protests in downtown Richmond over the murder of George Floyd, an African American man killed by four policemen when they wrestled the handcuffed man to the ground and put a knee on his neck. Charles would have been so outraged and my youngest always expressed his fury with action. He was not violent. But he was passionate–all brimstone and emotion.
The picture above is one in which he ran into a friend who was protesting and got involved. This was a response to a grand jury decision in St. Louis in which a jury did not indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. With that decision, protests erupted across the country, including Richmond, Virgnia.
Someone said today that they could never be so angry they’d take to the streets. I remember how angry I was after Charles was sexually assaulted by the cop who said, “No one will ever believe a teenager like you over a police officer.”
As I cleaned my son’s hair of crusted blood, took pictures of the bruises on his body, I was furious. I hated the police officer who took advantage of his power and position to bully my son, assault him, and beat him up by the side of the road with his hands cuffed behind his back.
I wondered that day if I would be hugging a live child had he been a young black man. At the very least I think he would have been severely beaten instead of roughed up. And my heart hurts when African American women have told me, “When I see my son leave in the morning, I just pray he walks through the door at night?”
My son was not killed by the police. The incident was just one of many contributing factors in my son’s later suicide. But the day I held him in my arms as we both cried over what happened, I had so much anger with nowhere to go.
No one was listening then. All the cards were stacked against us. Except for the lawyer offering his help for ten thousand dollars. My son gets pulled for no probable cause, assaulted, beaten and the way I could level a score was ten thousand dollars.
I understand that helpless, frustrated feeling of powerlessness and anger. I understand when someone has had enough and nothing else seems to get anyone in power to listen. I understand the protest.