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Families call for justice for police shooting victims

Angela Rowlings
Families call for justice for police shooting victims
Jennifer Root Bannon, sister of Juston Root, speaks during a news conference in front of the Massachusetts State House. Photo by Angela Rowlings

Family members of men who were killed by police in or around Boston called for independent investigations into their deaths during a news conference organized by Mass Action Against Police Brutality in front of the State House on Thursday, March 4. The group also planned to attend a demonstration on March 6 at Peters Park in the South End, part of a nationwide Justice for George Floyd protest the weekend before the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer charged with Floyd’s death, is set to begin.

“Justice means that police go to jail for their crimes. It also means that anybody else involved in government that’s part of the apparatus and coverup also be prosecuted,” said Brock Satter, an organizer with Mass Action Against Police Brutality.

Satter said the movement that has brought millions to the streets in protest around the country following the police killings of George Floyd and other civilians is not over.

“It was never about an election, or who was in office,” said Satter. “It was always about the fact that regardless of who has been in office, whether it’s a red state or blue state, all across this nation, police are killing civilians, especially Black civilians, but really civilians of all walks of life. And the government is part of downplaying this, covering it up and standing in the way of justice.”

Rahima Rahim, mother of Ussamah Rahim, left, and Karen Rossow, a coordinator with Mass. Action Against Police Brutality, attend a news conference in front of the Massachusetts State House. Photo by Angela Rowlings

Hope Coleman, mother of Terrence Coleman, said she is still fighting for justice for her son, who was killed by Boston police in 2016 after she called for an ambulance as he was suffering a mental health crisis at their South End home.

“I was there with my son when he got shot, murdered, killed. It was uncalled for,” Coleman said.

“My brother’s death is my family’s worst nightmare,” added Jennifer Root Bannon, whose brother, Juston Root, was fatally shot by police last year following an incident near Brigham and Women’s Hospital that led to a police chase into Chestnut Hill.

“Juston was a loving brother, uncle and son who did the best he could to manage his severe mental illness,” said Bannon. “There is no justification for being shot over 30 times while already lying on the ground covered in blood, posing no threat. On February 7, my brother’s life was taken in a wealthy Boston suburb. But it could have been your neighbor. It could’ve been your friend, it could’ve been your child, it could have even been you. Bullets flew across that parking lot.”

Rahimah Rahim spoke about the killing her of son, Usaamah Rahim, by Boston police and the FBI in a Roslindale parking lot as students waited for a bus nearby.

“They had all that time to arrange to either come to the house to talk with him if they had questions, or to arrange a peaceable approach to him. But they didn’t,” said Rahim. “They planned to kill him.”

“I just want justice for my son, and I want justice for the other sons and daughters who are killed unjustly here,” said Rahim. “We look at other countries and we say ‘Oh, how terrible.’ Why not look at ourselves?”