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North Carolina students demand justice for Akiel Denkins and Malcolm Elliott

By Noah Killough |
March 7, 2016
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North Carolina students protest Charlotte police violence
North Carolina students protest Charlotte police violence (Photo by Kassandra Ottley)

Charlotte, NC - On March 4, 30 activists from across Charlotte united to march against the ongoing abuse of power and racist violence employed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) and various police departments across the state.

They demanded justice for Akiel Denkins and Malcolm Glenn Elliott. The protest comes days after the fatal shooting of Akiel Denkins, age 24, by Raleigh Police in broad daylight on Feb. 29, and the surfacing of a video in Charlotte of Malcolm Glenn Elliott Jr, 26, being brutally beaten by an officer while on the ground, as six more officers and a state trooper stood by and watched.

The march consisted of around 30 people from the Black Lives Matter movement, the newly formed Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Charlotte chapter, and various local independent activists. It began at Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte and continued down South Davidson Street before converging on the CMPD headquarters. On the steps, speakers shared their frustration, disappointment and weariness with the continuing epidemic of police brutality.

“We demand to be treated like human beings, before arrest, after arrest and while being detained, and to live so that we may be able to stand before a jury of our peers,” activist Ashley S. Williams stated before the CMPD headquarters.

Earlier in the year, a study by MappingPoliceViolence.org found that 14 police departments in the U.S. were guilty of exclusively killing black people in 2015. CMPD and Raleigh police made up two out of the 14.

“I have five sons and the first thing I thought was, ‘Why would they do that?’” said protester Kelle Pressley in an interview with WBTV.

Before the march was over, the organizers promised to protest city council meetings. They will continue to fight for justice against CMPD and a change to the cities' compromised citizen’s review board. This board, in the recent past, has worked for the police interests and not that of the people. After leaving the CMPD headquarters, the march continued back to Marshall Park, chanting cries against racism and police brutality.

The night closed with a quote from Assata Skakur, delivered by Ashley Williams: “It’s our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

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