June 12, 2019
That was the sentiment that rang from several speakers as the crowd of about a hundred friends, relatives, and neighbors gathered at the Blind Whino in Southwest D.C. to mark one year since the death of Marqueese “Queese” Alston. Marqueese was shot and killed by police last June 12th. Yet, a year later the family is struggling to get footage of the body camera that would answer the questions that surround his shooting.
The vigil was reminiscent of a home-going service where people reunite themselves with one another after months of not seeing a familiar face or realizing that a niece or nephew has grown a lot in such a short period of time. There are moments when everyone collects around a family elder who serves as the glue that keeps everyone grounded. And much like when the pastor calls the service to order, Kenethia Alston, Marqueese’s mother, took the microphone and everyone’s heart sunk as the reality of why they were all here set in again.
It was time to remember the life and tragic death of yet another young black male shot to death by the police. Standing there it was easy to recall the sentiment the led to the DC Voice’s July 11, 2016 article “What If This Happened To Someone in Your Family?“.
These video clips can’t begin to capture the sadness, anger, or disappointment pulsing through the crowd. The feeling that our elected officials have abandoned their constituents after another senseless loss. The speakers also reveal the deadly epidemic that’s growing in the district of young black men being killed by police. They also highlight the lack of attention these killings are getting. “At some point, there has to be accountability”, was another refrain from the crowd and the speakers.
There were no visible surrogates from the district’s mayor’s office, city council, or Metropolitan Police Department. Although attendance of any of these elements is potentially volatile, the lack of any spokesperson is both dismissive and unfortunate. All people want are answers that make sense. Not statements that appear to contradict eyewitness accounts. Or even worse, evidence that can easily be validated by releasing the body camera footage. Not releasing the body camera footage only heightens the tension.
The vigil was also highlighted by two very poignant moments. The first was the collective reaction from everyone when a series of gunshots rang out in the distance. There was a collective response of “there they go”. In the back of everybody’s mind was whether another young black male was being gunned down at that very moment. However, the most symbolic moment of all, that may have been missed by some, was as the balloons were released toward the sky, the first faint raindrops started to fall.
The DC Voice renews its invitation to post the picture of any young victim of police gunfire. We will run these photos until the madness ends.