Seeds is a photography column that seeks to explore and promote just causes by highlighting individuals‘ efforts. These individuals are seeds of justice and resistance, and seeds for social movements and social changes.
Akai Gurley was a victim of police brutality. He was killed by the NYPD in Brooklyn, New York. This is a letter from Ms. Hertencia Petersen, Akai’s aunt.
GREETINGS. MY NAME is Hertencia Petersen. On November 20, 2014 my nephew Akai Gurley was murdered by NYPD officer, Peter Liang, in an unlit stairwell at the Louis Pink houses in Brooklyn New York.
Akai’s mom, Sylvia Palmer, my eldest sister, lives in Jacksonville Florida. My family is devastated, and angry with the NYPD officer who took Akai’s life. Officer Liang did not think to check if anyone was injured after he recklessly discharged his firearm, and instead he took 6 1/2 minutes texting his union representative while my nephew laid in a pool of blood dying. Officer Liang took an oath to serve and protect the citizens of New York, but he did not protect nor help my nephew. We will never know if that 6 1/2 minutes could have saved Akai in those critical moments, but we know that, instead of calling for medical help Peter Liang was more concerned about his job and being disciplined.
The police commissioner and the Mayor called it an accident. Akai was minding his business preparing to take his girlfriend and daughters to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his mother in Jacksonville—however, this became a surprise visit that never happened. The NYPD has a “Shoot first, ask questions later” mentality. In this case my Akai cannot answer questions nor defend himself because he’s dead. His death was not an accident. (How can an officer patrol a dimly lit stairwell with his finger on the trigger of his gun? Would he have killed if a mother and a child was coming down the stairwell? ) The recurrent charges of police brutality, murder on Black/Brown people has got to stop. The abuse of power, hostility, discrimination, intimidation, harassment and violence are deeply rooted in the NYPD. Every police department is an Institutional culture where they’re taught to kill. Akai Gurley’s murder is the result of strategies based on a paramilitary policing model that patrols and controls the socially, educationally, and economically neglected populations.
We, as a community and as a people, must come together to fight for equal treatment for all. We cannot stand by and let our loved ones get murdered by police officers, and the officers aren’t held accountable for their actions. The laws and system was created to serve and protect the officers from wrongdoing. It’s time to change these laws. Akai left behind a 2 1/2 year old daughter who constantly asks her mom, “When is daddy coming home?” We have been marching, protesting, and fighting not only for Akai but for All families that have lost loved ones by the hands of police brutality it’s a fight and struggle that we will continue until laws are changed and police officers that kills innocent civilians are held accountable, it’s a fight I Strongly believe We will be Victorious, Justice Will Prevail for those who has lost their lives before Akai and after Akai. Every 28 hours a Black/Brown lives is taken by the hands of those who took an oath to protect.
Racism and Equal treatment have been a struggle for Black Americans for over more than 100 years. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for this, Malcolm X fought for this, Harriet Tubman fought for this, Marcus Garvey fought for this. How long should we continue to fight for Equal Justice for All, How long should mothers cry and mourn their children being killed senselessly?.
We have to Stand together in Unity so Our voices can be heard. I applaud your actions in Taiwan. We have the same struggles in the US, too. Please continue to keep up your good work! Continue to Stand for Justice! Continuing the fight is Your Right as a Citizen and as a Human being. I will continue to pray for our voices to be heard, peace and changes in our Parliaments and Justice system. I will continue to Stand in Solidarity with you and your struggles!
In Solidarity Akai Gurley Family with the Activists of Taiwan
Editor: Ms. Petersen would also like to share the following with us: