By Arturo R. García
It’s been just over a month now since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, and while his case has come to dominate national headlines, there have been other tragedies coming to light.
- One week ago today, 22-year-old Chicago resident Rekia Boyd was shot and killed when an off-duty police detective opened fire on a crowd that included Boyd and Antonio Cross, who the officer–who has been identified though not named publicly–said had pulled a gun on him.
At a protest outside the officer’s home, Cross told WLS-TV neither he nor Boyd had a gun.
“I want people to know that girl was killed for nothing,” he said. The station also reported that no gun was found in Cross’ possession; he was charged with assault, a misdemeanor.
The station also reported that the same officer allegedly told a crowd, “What do I have to do around here to get some peace, quiet, and respect? Shoot someone?”–the day before Boyd was killed. The matter has also drawn the attention of Ward 24 Alderman Michael Chandler.
(Trigger Alert for video, based on description of assault.)
- In a morbid coincidence, today also marks one week since the murder of Shaima Alawadi, a mother of five who emigrated to the U.S. from Iraq, has shocked members of the local Muslim population, according to Sadaf T. Hane, Civil Rights Director for the local office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“We didn’t know such a violent attack could happen in our own back yards,” she told MSNBC. “This is the potentially most violent crime that has been committed against an Iraqi, an American Muslim, in our community.”
Authorities in El Cajon, CA, the suburb where Alawadi and her family lived, said would work with the FBI to find out whether her murder was a hate crime. Public attention has focused on her daughter’s allegation that a note saying, “Go back to your country, you terrorist” was found near her body. KNSD-TV said the local police chief, Jim Redman, has not confirmed that, “but did describe it as ‘threatening’ and similar to another note that had been found near the home within the last month. The previous note was unreported.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that police are confident her killing was “an isolated incident,” while CAIR and other Muslim organizations urged the community to let the investigation continue.
As Alawadi’s family continues to search for answers, an online campaign, One Million Hijabs For Shaima, was launched in a show of solidarity, and has garnered almost 7,000 likes in less than a week.
“Shaima’s story is my story,” a group administrator wrote to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “I am Shaima, and so are you. That’s the message of this page.”
- A Facebook group has also been formed seeking answers for the death of Anna Brown, who died in jail last September after being forcibly removed from a St. Louis-area hospital despite telling both officers and hospital staff her legs hurt too badly for her to walk:
A police officer arrested Brown for trespassing. He wheeled her out in handcuffs after a doctor said she was healthy enough to be locked up.
Brown was 29. A mother who had lost custody of two children. Homeless. On Medicaid. And, an autopsy later revealed, dying from blood clots that started in her legs, then lodged in her lungs.
She told officers she couldn’t get out of the police car, so they dragged her by her arms into the station. They left her lying on the concrete floor of a jail cell, moaning and struggling to breathe. Just 15 minutes later, a jail worker found her cold to the touch.
Officers suspected Brown was using drugs. Autopsy results showed she had no drugs in her system.
Six months later, family members still wonder how Brown’s sprained ankle led to her death in police custody, and whether anyone — including themselves — is to blame.
“She was not a drug dealer or a hooker or doing other things that she could’ve ended up dead for,” Brown’s sister, Krystle, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “People assume things because of they way they talk or the way they live or the things they do. My sister is not here today because people passed judgement.”