Photo credit: Sami Disu
On Saturday, May 29 family members of victims of police violence led about 100 marchers through East New York and Brownsville, beginning with a stop at the location where Delrawn Small was killed by NYPD officer Wayne Isaacs in 2016. Building on the momentum generated by the march organized by Communities United for Police Reform the week prior, family members of victims of NYPD violence demanded accountability for their loved ones, and that Mayor de Blasio and the City Council defund the NYPD.
Small’s brother, Victor Dempsey, called for the mayor to stop holding up the disciplinary hearings against Isaacs. Also speaking was Donna Heyward, whose son Nicholas Heyward Jr. was killed by housing officer Brian George in 1994, along with representatives from the diverse groups organizing under the banner of the Defund NYPD Coalition.
Coalition organizations participating in the march included Black Trans Nation, Black Women’s March, Local 100 Fightback, Moms United for Black Lives, MORE – UFT, North Bronx Racial Justice, NYC Democratic Socialists of America, NYC Fight for Our Lives Coalition, Parents Supporting Parents New York, Public Sector Workers Unite, Rank and File Action, Riders for Black Lives, and Socialist Alternative.
On July 4, 2016, 37-year-old Delrawn Small was shot and killed by Wayne Isaacs, an NYPD Officer. Isaacs, who is still employed by the NYPD, killed Delrawn in front of his loved ones, including his four-month-old baby, 14-year-old stepdaughter, and girlfriend. Security footage showed that Isaacs shot Delrawn Small, who was unarmed, within seconds and without provocation. After shooting Small, Isaacs left him to bleed to death on the ground, offering no emergency aid and never even communicating that he had shot someone in his 911 call. In October of 2020, the NYPD served disciplinary charges on Isaacs that were substantiated by the CCRB, but a discipline trial for Wayne Isaacs has not yet been scheduled.
In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr. was killed by housing officer Brian George in Brooklyn. Nicholas was playing cops and robbers with his friends in a stairwell of Gowanus Houses, where he lived, when he was killed by George. According to court testimony Nicholas had dropped his small Western-style popgun with a long orange tip when he was shot in the stomach by George. After Nicholas’ death, his father, Nicholas Heyward Sr., became well known for his community activism, founding the non-profit organization Parents Against Police Brutality and the Nicholas Naquan Heyward Jr. Memorial Foundation.
“Mayor De Blasio can act like he didn’t see the video of my brother’s murder, but he has all the power in the world to fire Wayne Isaacs,” said Delrawn Small’s brother Victor Dempsey. We’re asking de Blasio to get out of the way and let the disciplinary hearing take its course. Right now, my family is fighting, tooth-and-nail, after CCRB substantiated charges, saying Wayne Isaacs murdered my brother unjustly and he does not belong on the force. Why would the mayor get in the way of that? He protects himself. So, who is protecting us?
“The last words that came out of my boy’s mouth: ‘We’re only playing’ and they still shot him,” said Donna Heyward, the stepmother of Nicholas Heyward Jr. “A year before that, they pulled him over, arrested him, and took him to the precinct saying he fit the description of somebody else. He was an honors student, never got in trouble. They told him if he did not shut the fuck up, they were going to take their gun, stick it up his ass, and pull the trigger. Twelve years old. Then turned around and told him he wouldn’t live to see fifteen years old. A year later, they shot him dead. You tell me. That boy did not deserve to die. His father fought, and I fought right alongside him, till his death. All the empty promises we heard about bringing the cop to justice were nothing but empty promises. The cop who killed my boy stayed on the job. He retired with full benefits. And left the family ruined. And we’re still ruined.”
“Andrew Kearse’s life mattered,” said Angelique Kearse, the mother of Andrew Kearse. “His life mattered before a Schenectady cop called Mark Weekes killed him by withholding medical attention. Andrew’s life still matters and that’s why we won’t rest until Weekes is fired and does jail time. I demand justice for the many families who have been wounded by racist law enforcement by:
1.Re-opening all cases of police brutality
2.Prosecuting police misconduct
3. Jailing killer cops
And until we get justice, we must defund NYPD and invest in our communities which desperately need attention and resources. I call upon Mayor de Blasio and City Council to defund NYPD by $3 billion and use that money to build healthier communities. It’s the least our so-called leaders can do for us.”
“How long must our families keep asking for police accountability” asked Hawa Bah, the mother of Mohamed Bah. “Just yesterday, I had to come out again to fight for justice for my son, Mohamed Bah, because the NYPD with the support of Mayor de Blasio is trying to stop an investigation of my complaint to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Imagine that! So, after 9 years of being denied justice for the murder of my son, NYPD is being allowed to contest the smallest measure of accountability we can ask for. That is a real injustice to me and my whole family as we must continue to set aside our grief and keep experiencing the murder of my son all over again in the courts. All of this has got to stop. All of this pain that the families are re-living has got to stop!”