Vigil for Malcom Johnson Held While Investigation Continues
Andrei Stoica and Brynn Fitzsimmons
8/14/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Family and friends held a vigil on Saturday, August 14 for Malcolm Johnson for his 32nd birthday at 63rd and Prospect in Kansas City, Missouri.
Friends and family of Malcolm Johnson held a vigil on Saturday, August 14 for his 32nd birthday at the site of the police shooting that resulted in his death.
“I just want everybody to know that he’s not who the media paints him to be,” said India, a friend of Malcolm’s. “Malcolm had a big heart, he's a great person, he didn't deserve to be killed the way he was. And we just want justice.”
Activist Chris Bizzle Jr. stressed the importance of both showing up for the event and continuing to push for justice--no matter how long it takes. “People think when you’re fighting for justice, it’s going to happen overnight,” he said. “I promise you: you’ve got to work hard. It’s like having a job.”
Police Interrupt Event at BP
Attendees began with a march from the Landing Mall to the BP gas station where police shot and killed Johnson on March 25. Police were called while attendees were at the gas station due to reports of blocked entrances that would interfere with business. Attendees pushed back on both the police and the gas station’s response to the event.
“They (the BP) try to act like they support us, but they really don’t. We've been trying to contact the store to work with them for months ahead of time, and they've just kind of dodged and so at this point, I just really feel like we need support, and justice for Malcolm,” India said. “I just feel like we need to come together and stay together because there’s strength in numbers.”
Steve Young of Friday Night Protest said the police interaction was an example of misguided priorities. “People come first,” he said. “People always come first. But the cops are out here...protecting property.”
“Somebody died right here in front of these cereal boxes and bread,” said activist Debbie Hendrix. “That man got a daughter that look exactly like him...she know exactly what happened to her daddy.”
After moving to the sidewalk at police direction, attendees released balloons in celebration of Johnson’s birthday while police looked on and many passersby honked or waved in support.
Troy Robertson of Team HONK emphasized that seeking justice for Johnson is tied up in seeking justice for many other victims of police brutality as well.
“I’m pissed that (the police) still covering up. They still making excuses for everything they do to us,” Robertson said. “I protest every day, not just for people that’s died but for everybody that’s living.”
Case Background and Response
The killing of Malcolm Johnson occurred March 25, 2021 at 63rd and Prospect in Kansas City, Missouri. Although initial reports said Johnson had shot at officers, striking one in the leg, the police narrative quickly came under scrutiny after video of the interaction cast doubt on the official report, in which Johnson can be seen lying face down, with several officers on top of him, well before any shots are fired. The call for transparency came after three videos, which appear to show an officer firing all audible shots, were turned over by faith leaders to the Kansas City, Missouri police department.
The case has resulted in increased demands for a civil rights investigation into the Kansas City, Missouri police department. The department is ranked 495 out of 526 departments with a 6% “Police Accountability” score and more police shootings per arrest than 95% of other departments, according to policescorecard.org.
The calls for accountability include letters to the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting a federal investigation. The letters were sent by It’s Time for Justice in collaboration with Getting to the Heart of the Matter, a local group of faith leaders who had worked with KCPD in the past; a coalition of civil rights groups including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Urban League; and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
Published on: 8/22/2021