About 200 demonstrators gathered Wednesday night outside the Beavercreek Walmart to keep alive the memory of John Crawford III, shot and killed by a police officer six years ago today.
People got on their knees during a moment of silence to remember the 22-year-old Black man from Fairfield who was shot and killed Aug. 5, 2014.
“The organizers here they just have a peaceful demonstration (planned),” said Daj’za Demmings, executive director of Dayton Young Black Professionals and one of Wednesday’s event organizers. “It’s just a peaceful way to let people mourn. This type of stuff is still happening, so it’s kind of taking the Band-Aid off of a scar but still trying to be there for the community at the same time.”
During the moment of silence, organizers a couple children wearing white spelled out Crawford’s initials, JCIII, with their bodies. Written on their shirts were the names of other Black people who had been killed by police.
Crawford was shot to death by a Beavercreek police officer after a customer called 911. Crawford was talking on a cellphone and holding a BB/ pellet rifle he had picked up from a store shelf when family said he had just .33 of a second to react to any commands before he was shot.
Crawford’s father, John Crawford Jr., also addressed the crowd alongside organizers.
“Now what we’re doing, we’re putting pen to the paper ... we need your support, we need the numbers,” Crawford said.
Crawford asked the crowd to go to change.org to sign the petition for the “John Crawford III Law (Accountability for Wrongful Use of Deadly Force)” to be sent to the Ohio Statehouse when it reaches 1,000 signatures.
One component of the proposed legislation states “Law enforcement use of deadly force should always be the last resort, being their primary roles are to serve and protect and bring the accused to justice, not to become Judge, Jury and executioner. The use of deadly force is currently excusable by one’s perception of a threat instead of tangible evidence of a threat
Following about an hour of remarks was a walk of solidarity along the perimeter of the Walmart parking lot.
During the walk, marchers chanted “Black Lives Matter,” No Justice, No Peace” and “John Crawford.”
The walk ended with demonstrators standing in the roadway directly in front of the doors to Walmart and a second moment of silence. They blocked traffic for about five or 10 minutes before returning to their original spot on the outskirts of the parking lot, chanting again as they went.
More remarks followed the return to the original site as the crowd thinned out before the memorial finally ended shortly before 8 p.m.
In May of this year, the city reached a $1.7 million settlement agreement with the Crawford family in their wrongful death lawsuit.
The family’s attorney, Michael Wright, said the wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart continues. Wright asked for prayers for the Crawford family as they prepare for the case against Walmart to go to trial on Nov. 2.
“(The Crawford family) is glad that one part of this case was put behind them. But we’re still fighting,” Wright said. “We still have a case against Walmart, so we’re hopeful that we will get a successful verdict.”
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