Mar 20, 2017
Tyrone West, a 50-year-old black man, was murdered by the police in July of 2013, near his home in a working-class neighborhood of northeast Baltimore. He was driving a Mercedes Benz, belonging to his sister, to take a friend to work, when he was pulled over by the cops. They harassed him, so that he got out of the car and started running across a neighbor’s lawn. He ended up dead at their hands. The autopsies performed, both by the city and by a pathologist hired by the family, indicated the cops beat him brutally.
After three and a half years, there is still no justice for his family, including his mother, his son and his sisters.
His younger sister, Tawanda Jones, a teacher, has organized protests every single Wednesday since his murder. Every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., no matter the weather, she leads a protest, held at different places, like police headquarters, city hall, the court house, a main intersection for buses traveling through the working class sections of east Baltimore. The protests are announced the day before, because Tawanda herself has been harassed by cops whenever they see her in her car. She gives a short speech, updating what has happened on her brother’s case, and linking it to the other police murders, like when Freddie Gray was killed by the cops in 2015 in Baltimore.
Tawanda is relentless in her anger and exposure of police brutality. She leads others at the protest in a favorite chant: “We can’t stop, we won’t stop, until killer cops are in cell blocks.”
She opens the mic to others who raise issues of police brutality and racial justice. Usually the demonstrations are small, perhaps 25 people, with all ages showing up, often high school and college students.
On the July anniversary of West’s death, a few times more people and groups have come together, 50 to 100, mostly black and working-class protesters.
Tawanda Jones’ courage and determination show how it is possible to go forward, to use protests to weigh in for the changes needed in this society.