Rally marks 2010 death of Aiyana in police raid
About a dozen people and activists Saturday called for justice for children and parents who’ve died at the hands of police.
The small group gathered at the feet of the Spirit of Detroit statue in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal building on the corner of Woodward and Jefferson in downtown Detroit.
They held their rally in honor of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was killed during a May 16, 2010 police raid at a Detroit home. The event was organized by The Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee and Black Matters, a nonprofit news outlet that focuses on African-American issues.
“Our society has become a pathetic laughing stock, especially concerning the fact that a baby was literally sacrificed in the quest to film a scene with a Detroit Police Swat Team for a Hollywood-based reality show,” Roland Lawrence, chairman of the Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee, said in a statement. “Aiyana’s family remains devastated, and this time of year is compounded even more.”
Members of the group carried signs and wore shirts with messages such as “Fight fire with fire: Stop Killing us — Black Lives Matter” and “RIP Baby Aiyana.”
“We’re out here for any kids who have been killed by police violence and for any kids who have lost parents to police violence,” said Nolan Hack, a Los Angeles-based activist for Black Matters.
Aiyana was asleep on a sofa when police raided her family's home May 16, 2010, looking for a friend of the Jones family, Chauncey Owens. The nighttime raid was being filmed by camera crews for the cable TV show "The First 48."
Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley led the Detroit Police Special Response Team into the home on Lillibridge on the city's east side. Seconds after entering the home, he said the girl's grandmother, Mertilla Jones, slapped at his gun, causing it to fire and kill Aiyana.
The officer was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a weapon, a misdemeanor. Weekley's first trial ended in a hung jury and his second in a mistrial.
Organizers of Saturday’s rally invited families of victims killed by police to attend and speak. They said Aiyana’s grandmother was expected to appear, but would not give interviews to the media.
But Yolanda McNair shared the story of losing her daughter, Adaisha Miller. Miller, 24, was shot July 8, 2012 during a party at the northwest Detroit home of police Officer Isaac Parrish.
“Aiyana was an innocent and my daughter was an innocent,” she said. “There are many, many, many innocents who are being killed by the police every day and they continue to be on the force.”
McNair said her daughter was celebrating her upcoming 25th birthday and was invited to the party by friends who knew Parrish.
Police said Miller “embraced” Parrish from behind while dancing. Parrish was wearing his police-issued handgun on his waist, and it fired striking Miller once. The slug punctured Miller’s lung and hit her heart. She died at a hospital.
Parrish was cleared of any wrongdoing by the police department and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
McNair said there are still too many unanswered questions and her family wants answers. “All my family needs and wants is the truth,” she said.
She also urged people who’ve witnessed police brutality — or any crime — to come forward.
“Anybody who knows anything about Adaisha Miller’s death, please step forward and give my family some peace,” McNair said. “If anybody knows anything about anyone else’s death involving a police offcer or even if it doesn’t, step forward. Get that burden off of you.”