The Mommas—it is always the mommas. Her wails could be heard from my car as I walked toward the vigil last Friday hundreds of feet away. We have become so familiar with these decibels of pain, the echoes of sorrow, as they ring through Sacramento with a regularity unfathomable. But please tell me one thing! —What is the frequency of justice? What do her bells sound like? Because we haven’t heard it yet, and in this moment, I want to scream louder than the bullets that ended Darell Richard’s life.
We need to agree on one thing before I can be assured of your humanity, and that is that there has got to be a better way. Teenagers dying while running away with (maybe) pellet guns being hunted by a team of grown men trained in militarized combat, armed with high-tech weaponry, padded with bullet-proof armor, and given access to unlimited resources cannot be an accepted status quo. The power differential is too great. When the Sacramento Police Department stopped pursuit, the boy hid and never once fired the toy gun. A child crouching in fear does not warrant lethal force.
There has not been a single on-duty death of a Sac PD officer in 20 years, and yet they so “fear for their lives” they pump out bullet laden Black and Brown bodies every few months. We cannot go on like this.
Sac PD claims that less-lethal force cannot be used when a suspect is “armed.” They had K-9 units, rubber bullets, bean bag guns, long range tasers, and extensive safety gear for themselves. We are to believe that these SWAT officers felt so afraid of a boy with (maybe) a BB gun that they HAD to kill him. He HAD to die. Had he been a white teenage girl, he most assuredly would be alive. His death wasn’t inevitable, ultimately, it was his skin they hunted. When they lament the tragedy of his loss while simultaneously reassuring the public that “nothing else could have been done,” they are laying the groundwork for their next kill. They are ensuring the legal pathway for the systematic genocide against Black and Brown community members.
Darell Richards was loved. Deeply. His family and friends described a sweet boy who treasured his siblings and enjoyed dancing. As his mother cried out into the night asking the heavens how she can go on without him, the community surrounding her was faced with the question—Where do we go from here? Our mayor, city manager, and city council continue to critique the public’s rage at these nonstop instances of terror, rather than address the policy and behavior of their police department. The police chief continues to shield his officers rather than press for their removal from the force—even when video evidence shows wrongdoing that costs the tax payers millions of dollars. The tenants of even basic reform are denied by the existing power structures in Sacramento.
To answer the question—I don’t know where we are going. I don’t know how his family will heal, but I do know that we will rise and fight for Darell with the power and force of the people, because this kid should be alive, and the ringing of his mother’s cries will forever reverberate in our hearts.
Tues * 9/11 * 8:30am
Tues * 9/11 * 4:30pm
Fri * 9/14 * 7:00pm
Sat * 9/15 * 12:00pm