We must end the problem of people of color being killed by police

It just kept going on and on.

The teenage organizers of the protest and march, all in high school or just out, younger than my daughter, had done a great job in their speeches and setting the whole thing up. This was the part where she read out the names of people of color killed by the police. After each, we said, “Say their name.”

Tamir Rice. Oliver “O.J.” Gregoire. George King.

I understood that it would be a long list. I had been to other events where we had done something similar. I get it. But this list was longer, started further back in time.

Dominique Franklin Jr. Emerson Clayton Jr. Rondre Lamar Hornbeak.

Each name seemed to add a physical weight on our shoulders. The volume of our response did not diminish but it changed, seemed to deepen, as more and more names were read. Voices cracked. The sun went behind a small cloud in the otherwise clear sky. The man with the Make America Great Again hat, the one I had moved closer to and been eyeing to make sure he didn’t start anything, left partway through the list. The names kept coming.

Tommy Yancy. Quentin Byrd. Yvette Smith.


I understand, intellectually, but I know I really don’t get, in my core, in my life, what daily discrimination is. When I get pulled over by a police officer, I am frustrated but not afraid for my life. Nobody in this country has ever asked me what country I was born in. I get much more than a fair shot at a loan or a job, I get an advantage. I can go jogging anytime I want.

John H. Crawford III. Ricky Deangelo Hinkle. Jerame C. Reid.

How many years, how many decades would it take to read out every name? If we read every name of every person of color killed in police custody, in the civil rights era, from lynching after Reconstruction, from slavery, if we went back to the beginning, how many names? If we read one per day, would it ever end? Will this ever end?

Wally Flex. Corey Levert Tanner. Tanisha Anderson.

What should an ally do? I believe we must fundamentally change our society toward racial justice. But I don’t think it is the time for white allies to start telling people of color or women the solution, start dictating policy solutions to problems we don’t face every day. We, collectively, are feeling our way toward better and better solutions. I want to be part of that process. I will support. I will donate. I will learn. I will march and protest. Most important, I will listen.

Zikarious Flint. Antoine Dominique Hunter. Charles Goodridge.

At some point, we started to get louder. None of us, other than the young woman with the list, knew if we were close to the end or not. But the volume and the power grew. The sun came back out. We shouted.

Jason Harrison. Anesson Joseph. Jacqueline Nichols.

When she got to the names we all recognized, when she brought us to the present, we all knew that new names would likely get added to the list in the future. But this young leader, who had begged her mother every day in junior high to let her straighten her hair to fit in and now wore it naturally, proudly, told us that she was not going to take it anymore. She told us that we, all of us, were not going to take it anymore. We believed it. We believed that this could end.

I believe that we can end this list.

Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Say their names.

Eric Croft is a proud father of two and a candidate for mayor of Anchorage in the April 2021 election. He says that he can go jogging anytime he wants, but actually, he almost never does. Except for the last three, the names were taken from the 2014 list of unarmed Black people killed by police on the website mappingpoliceviolence.org.

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