BY TRONE DOWD
As the nation continues to mourn the lives of those shot and killed in the shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas, Southeast Queens leaders took a stand for a number of issues that the community has been facing for years now.
Led and organized by 100 Suits for 100 Men founder and civic leader Kevin Livingston, more than 200 fed-up Southeast Queens residents, civic leaders and politicians turned out to take part in a five mile march to the Queens County Court. The march was done to bring attention to those men and women killed in both police shootings, as well as black on black violence which has become particularly rampant in Far Rockaway.
Protesters marched down Jamaica Avenue, shouting for justice and pleading with passersby to join them. They also read the names of those killed in violence across the state in remembrance. Once the group reached the Queens County Court, they rallied in front of the building, demanding justice and action in their community.
“We have some lynchings in our own community,” Livingston said. “We have the family of Sharon Plummer, a mother who lost two sons to gun violence in three years. We have Brother Tillman: A married electrician, father of five, church goer, good tax paying brother, taken off these streets by unjust law. We want justice in these cases and we’re here to let the Queens District Attorney know, that we have petitions. And that we are asking you to take on this case and if you don’t, we’ll remind you when you go up for re-election. We are not playing games. Our lives matter.”
The Queens Tribune’s sister paper the Press of Southeast Queens published a story last November on Plummer’s heartbreaking loss and her crusade to end gun violence once and for all. Both of her sons, Shawn and Neshawn Plummer were killed in 2012 and 2015 respectively by unknown assailants. Both murders are still unsolved.
George Tillman was killed by police on April 17 this year. The 32-year-old man fled after being stopped by police for having an open container. Police say that Tillman reached for a gun on his person, but eye witnesses have conflicting reports alleging that he never reached for a weapon and was shot in the back as he fled. There has yet to be any response from the Queens D.A. on further investigation of the case.
According to Livingston, the march was actually planned for this week two months ago. The march was initially on behalf of seeking justice in cases that remain ignored in Southeast Queens.
“We’re tired of our community being disrespected,” he said. “Southeast Queens has too many unsolved cases that are just going to the wayside and we’re not going to allow that anymore. We have two other mothers here who lost their sons and their cases remain unsolved. We need to help these families.”
Civil rights attorney Kareem Vessup, who has worked closely with Livingston and the community in the past, summated his thoughts on the losses in other states and in Queens, with the touching words, “Tragedy deserves tribute.”
“We live in a nation where whenever an individual who puts themselves in harm’s way or dies as a result of tragic circumstances, we receive the promises of government and media that there will be appropriate tribute because of that loss,” Vessup said. “We have soldiers that die overseas and when we hear about terrorist activities we always hear elected officials say ‘we will find the killers and bring them to justice.’ We live in a nation that whenever we see police officers in the line of duty that lose their lives, the first thing that we hear the media and society scream for is finding the individuals responsible and bringing them to justice. The question that I have today is why should it be any different in our community? Tragedy deserves tribute. What greater way to pay tribute to these families and to these fallen brothers of our community than for the individuals charged with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting crimes in this jurisdiction, to make sure that they invest the resources to properly investigate these killings?”
Vessup pointed out that it has been nearly three months since Tillman was shot dead with nearly no attention given to an investigation despite both state Sens. Leroy Comrie (D-Jamaica) and James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park) pushing for a response, as well as the conflicting reports from eyewitnesses. He also pointed out that the Plummer family has yet to find closure to their loss after three years.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly