Since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, there’s been a cry for change in the American system and for justice for the Black men who were innocently murdered across the country. With the inception of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, co-founded by three women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the media has done little to nothing to point out the increasing number of Black women who have succumbed to police brutality in recent years as well.
Last week (May 20), the African-American Policy Forum, the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia University, and Andrea Ritchie, a Soros Justice Fellow, released #SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women, a document featuring narratives of Black women who have been murdered by police. In New York City, a rally accompanied the release with the families of Rekia Boyd, Shelly Frey, Tanisha Anderson, Alberta Spruill, Miriam Carey, Michalle Cusseux, and Kayla Moore in attendance to highlight the stories of these women that most in America have never heard and should familiarize themselves with.
Rachel Gilmer, the Associate Director for the African-American Policy Forum, told The Huffington Post, “When we wear the hoodie, we know that we’re embodying Trayvon. When we hold our hands up, we know we’re doing what Mike Brown did in the moments before he was killed. When we say ‘I can’t breathe,’ we’re embodying Eric Garner’s final words. We haven’t been able to do the same thing for black women and girls. We haven’t carried their stories in the same way.”
The new movement is aiming to demand more focus and media representation on the victims of policy brutality, including cis- and transgender women, who are more often than not, never spoken about publicly. The AAPF said #SayHerName offers “a resource to help ensure [that] Black women’s stories are integrated into demands for justice,” where the numbers aren’t equal in comparison to that of Black men being murdered annually, but are rising in numbers nonetheless.
With the inclusion of Black women’s stories on policy brutality and sexual assault by that of law enforcement, the #SayHerName rally in Union Square began strong in number with the help of Black Lives Matter NYC and the Black Youth Project 100.
To catch up on the painful accounts of these women’s lives and powerful work happening on the forefront by activists, follow the #SayHerName hashtag on social media and check out highlights of the vigil below.
Photo Credit: NY Daily News