By Dara Cooper
A wallet. A cell phone. A waistband. Skittles and iced tea. All have been the supposed cause of the murder of black bodies throughout this country, supposedly mistaken for guns. All have been the scapegoat for police and vigilantes justifying the illegitimate murders of innocent black men and women.
On March 21, 2012, off duty police officer, Dante Servin, most likely didn’t intend to shoot Rekia Boyd in the head, causing severe damage and eventually murdering her. His bullets were meant for Antonio Cross, who he alleged had a gun. Per usual, an independent report found that Antonio simply had a cell phone. Per usual, the review reportedly found no gun.
The evening of Wednesday, March 21, 2012 left Rekia Boyd eventually dead and Antonio Cross shot in the hand. Prior to that, they were all hanging out with a group of people near Douglas Park, reportedly near the police officer’s home. Everyone agrees that the police officer said they were making too much noise. Many report Servin told the crowd to “shut up.” After a heated exchange of words, exactly what followed next is disputed.
The cop says Antonio pulled out a gun so he responded by shooting. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy reportedly stated that the murder and shots “appeared to be justified.” Antonio Cross and many witnesses state otherwise. According to them, the police officer shouted “what do I have to do to get some peace and quiet around here, shoot someone?” and engaged in a confrontational manner with the crowd. Antonio stated he was on his cell phone when he was shot. Later, an independent review confirmed no gun was found.
After a protest in the Lawndale community in front of Servin’s home protesting his murdering of Rekia, I spoke to Antonio and some of the witnesses. At the protest, the emotion and outrage regarding the callous ways Black lives are taken was high. Hundreds of residents, family, activists and friends turned out to demonstrate in front of Servin’s house and the police station. “It could be me next” was cried repeatedly.
Antonio showed me his hand wound up with bandages and said there was no way he had a gun. He told me the support and attention we were giving this case was much appreciated. He seemed a little nervous about the case. What if he is charged with assault simply for having a cell phone?
And most importantly, what of Rekia? Almost one year after her murder, no action has been taken against the police officer. Tomorrow, January 10, 2013 Antonio Cross will begin the first day of his trial for “aggravated assault” charges. If he is found guilty of aggravated assault with no weapon, a cell phone and many witnesses stating he didn’t shoot, 22 year old young Rekia Boyd’s murder may likely be determined as justified.
“We seem to live in a bizarre universe where violence against unarmed black men is OK.”
Let’s not allow murdering a young black woman having a good time with her friends to be found acceptable.
If you would like to stand up and make sure no more police get away with murdering Black people, following is a list of what you can do to get involved:
- Attend Antonio Cross’ hearing on Thursday, January 10th, 2013 at 3150 Flournoy at 9am in Chicago.
- Write a letter to the police review board and let them know you care about this case.
- cc the media.
- Call the police review board and let them know you care about this case.
- Find as many ways as possible to let them know we’re watching. Tweet, facebook, text, email as many people as possible and let them know about this case and that Black lives matter. Make #RekiaBoyd trend.
- And finally, let’s get organized to never allow a young Black woman or man to be murdered on our watch again. Join an organization. Or start one.
Dara Cooper is an activist, community health worker and organizer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.