Black Lives Matter of Greater New York held a candlelight vigil at Union Square this weekend to pay tribute to Jordon Edwards and Alton Sterling, who were both fatally shot by police.
Activists gathered to demand justice for Edwards and Sterling, and call for accountability for violence perpetrated by the criminal justice system against members of the black community.
Fifteen-year-old Jordan Edwards was fatally shot by police in Balch Springs, Dallas on April 29 by Roy White, a white Texas police officer. White handed himself in to the Parker County Jail in Weatherford, and is now facing a murder charge, although he was later released on bail.
Meanwhile, last week, the Department of Justice announced that it would not be filing criminal charges against the Baton Rouge police officers who fatally shot 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Louisiana last year.
“The system is rigged against African Americans when it comes to police violence. Without accountability everything stays the same,” organizers said before the event.
On Saturday, Black Lives Matter activists delivered speeches on the impact of the recent events, while a member of Black Lives Matters’ Youth Coalition gave a spoken word performance. The group then lit candles and held a five minute silence in honor of Edwards and Sterling.
“Too often we are fixated on black death, we forget that these people, these sons and these daughters have lives and family members,” said Kenneth Shelton Jr., Black Lives Matter Queens Director, who is an activist and community organizer based in Jamaica, Queens.
“Even if we are a hashtag, their lives mean so much more. Their lives cannot be summed up in one hashtag in one vigil, in one moment, but their lives still matter,” Shelton added.
Black Lives Matter of Greater New York is a New York based grassroots organization that aims to build community through civic engagement, education and mentorship, and directly impact the policies that impact black communities focusing on: criminal justice reform, basic public safety, fair and equal access to education, jobs and infrastructure.