Last night, the organization Black Action Now organized an event for their ‘They Can’t Kill Us All’ movement emphasizing the importance of protecting the lives of all black-Americans.
Beginning in Monroe Park, protesters marched to the Siegel Center for a die-in, a form of protest where participants play dead, followed by a march down Broad to 3rd street. The die-in blocked traffic for five minutes.
At 9 p.m., a group of around 100 people gathered at the center of Monroe Park where the leaders for Black Action Now instructed them to begin their march and told participants where the die-in would be. They chose not to initially reveal the ending location of the walk, as they intended for that information to not be made available to the authorities.
Ashleigh Shackelford, cofounder of Black Action Now, said “very often do we see that we keep talking about cis-black men when it comes to people who are murdered by the police and by vigilantes. What we aren’t talking about is the fact that black women and black trans women and black gender non-conforming folks are actually being murdered at even higher rates.”
Protests, rallies and die-ins have been taking place around the country following the highly publicized failure to indict police officer Darren Wilson after his killing of Michael Brown and the NYPD killing of Eric Gardner. However, cases such as that of Aura Rosser, and unarmed black woman shot and killed by the police, or that of Aiyana Jones, a sleeping seven year old girl who suffered a similar fate, tend to not reach the mass media.
That is why the protest took place, said Ashleigh Shackelford. At a blistering 31 degrees, the protestors left Monroe Park at 9:20 p.m. and held their die-in at the intersection of Broad Street and Harrison, in front of the Siegel Center.
For five minutes, police assisted the demonstrators by blocking off the intersection and allowing them to lay in the freezing slush. Some drivers honked at the demonstrators but were quickly approached by officers who instructed them to allow for the protest.
Following the die-in, the group quickly got to their feet and continued down Broad. Many were slipping on the ice and bracing against the cold wind, but continued to chant. They repeated the chants that have become the rallying cry of this national movement: “Racism means we have to fight back,” and “I can’t breath,” and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
By 10:05 p.m., they had reached their final destination at the intersection of 3rd street and Broad. They bowed their heads in silence for a few minutes before reciting the famous quote by Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
The crowd dispersed shortly afterwards.
The protest was part of a “week of action” in Richmond organized by Black Action Now.
Earlier in the week, protesters caused the City Council’s first meeting of the to go into recess. They entered the meeting chanting and singing, and they laid out their requests of the city government: opposition the the Shockoe Bottom baseball park, funding public school and increased social services were among the issues they raised.