Morris Park residents organize Black Lives Matter march in honor of Elijah McClain

Rapper and Bronx resident Mysonne speaks to the people at the rally.
Photos by Jason Cohen

A couple hundred people assembled on July 6 in Morris Park for a Black Lives Matter rally and march, in a continuing effort to fight the injustices of police involved killings of Black people.

Children, teens, young adults, activists and politicians gathered at Bronx Park East and Allerton Avenue prior to walking through the neighborhood.

The event, which was organized by the Allerton Allies, NYC Action Lab and Strategy for Black Lives, was held in honor of Elijah McClain, a Black man who, a year ago, was arrested in Colorado for wearing a ski cap and died in police custody. Now, a year later, the governor of Colorado has reopened the investigation into his death.

“I’m not a politician, I’m just a regular person from the neighborhood,” said Jen of the Allerton Allies. “When George Floyd died I could not sit back and do nothing anymore. The fight doesn’t end with George Floyd.”

Among the people who got the attendees fired up was rapper and Bronx resident Mysonne. The musician said he is getting tired of hearing and speaking about Black people getting killed by cops.

Whether it’s Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice or George Floyd, enough is enough, he said. He stressed that if people can say “Blue Lives Matter,” but not “Black Lives Matter,” then they have a problem with Black people.

He questioned how it was possible that after nearly four months, not one of the four cops who killed Breonna Taylor has been charged and only one was fired.

“Today is a good day to arrest the cops who shot Breonna Taylor,” he shouted. “We’re not going to watch police continue to brutalize us. The time is for white supremacy to die.”

One person who spoke with passion was a teacher, Andom Ghebreghiorgis. Ghebreghiorgis described the harrowing experience of being in a peaceful protest a month ago in the south Bronx.

At that time there was the 8 p.m. curfew, yet the police armed with riot gear knew that if people were out after 8 p.m. they could arrest them. As it crept towards curfew time, he and the peaceful protesters were boxed in by the cops and Ghebreghiorgis along with 200 people were arrested.

He was detained for 19 hours, with no phone call or food and had zip ties wound so tight his shoulders jammed his body.

“How ironic is it that those of us protesting against police brutality became victims of police brutality,” he exclaimed. “What does that say about our system?”

Ghebreghiorgis recalled the police killing of Black people has gone on for decades. He grew up reading about the murders of Rodney King, Abner Louima, Sean Bell and Ramarley Graham.

But this is nothing new, he said. Policing is entrenched in racism.

“This isn’t about good cops or bad cops, this is about policing as an institution,” he said.

Pelham Parkway resident Marisa Davis said she was worried about her unborn biracial son and wondered how he could be safe in a world where police are slaughtering Black people.

She said that she was getting sick and tired of seeing the same news over and over about Black people being gunned down or choked by police. She added that no one should be feared because of their skin color.

“We need to bring old school accountability back to make sure good cops aren’t drowned by cover up and alliances,” she said. “How can we change if officers are afraid to go against their brothers?”

According to Davis, there needs to be transparency between police and the community. She stressed that blue lives matter “without a doubt” but added that they are not the ones being killed at an alarming rate.

“We must start by weeding out the bad apples,” Davis said.

Elected officials Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, Assemblyman Michael Blake and Senator Jamaal Bailey all were in attendance. Bailey, who led the charge to repeal 50-A, spoke passionately and did not hold back.

“I’m just Jamaal from the Bronx,” he told the crowd. “I didn’t know I wanted to be an elected official. I just know I gave a damn about my community.”

With two young daughters, Bailey is determined to make the world a safer place for them. Police brutality can no longer be accepted, nor can Black people getting killed by other Black people. Just last week promising basketball star Brandon Hendricks was killed. This needs to stop, he pleaded.

“I’m pro-Black, but I’m not anti-anybody,” Bailey remarked. “I’m anti-brutality.”