We Need Our Fathers and Our Mothers To Be By Our Side

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Family and friends comfort Zianna Oliphant after she tearfully told the crowd, "I can't stand how we are treated." AP photo.

Jesus. On Tuesday, America's trigger-happy police shot dead another unarmed man, this time in El Cajon in southern California. Police shot and killed Alfred Orlango, 30, reportedly for having an epileptic seizure while black; his sister had called for help after he began walking in traffic. Police say they shot - and simultaneously tasered - him when he ignored their instructions to take his hand from his pocket and pulled out an object; no gun was found. Cell phone video shows scores of police and Orlango's sister wailing, “Oh my God. You killed my brother. I just called for help (and) you killed him.” As usual, officials urged calm and furious residents can't see why they should be.

The same day, the Charlotte City Council held its first meeting since the shooting death of Keith Scott, a father of seven, sparked sometimes violent protests against almost daily police shootings of black citizens repeatedly decried  as a moral, social and legal outrage as well as a public health epidemic. The meeting drew peaceful protesters and a crowd of about 50 people who spoke out against police violence. Among them were several children whose very presence offered a powerful reminder of the devastating effects of the carnage on our smallest citizens. Said Taje Gaddy, 10, "Every morning when I wake up, I’m scared that I won’t grow up to be a black man."

The most heartbreaking testimony came from nine-year-old Zianna Oliphant, who tremulously told officials, "I come here today to talk about how I feel..." Breaking down, audience members yelled support - "You're doing great! Do not stop!" - before she went on, tears streaming down her face. "We are black people, and we shouldn’t have to feel like this...I can’t stand how we are treated. It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t even see them anymore. It’s a shame that we have to go to their graveyard and bury them. We have tears and we shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side.”

When she finished, the room filled with protesters speaking the vital, righteous truth. "No Justice, No Peace," they chanted. "No justice, No Peace."

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