About 75 people wearing black and whistles while towing signs and bullhorns chanted in unison, “No justice; no peace; no killer police!” as they marched at 5 p.m. Oct. 22 from Market Square Park to the Houston Police Department for the 17th National Day of Protest against police brutality, repression and criminalization.The protest was hosted by a coalition of organizations and individuals like the Stolen Lives Project, Revolutionary Communist Party and the New Black Panther Party. Ray Hill, the former radio host of the The Prison Show, has been attending the protest since it began in 1995.
“Cops lie, cheat and steal,” Hill said. “They will kill in cold blood and get away with it.”
Hill began protesting police brutality when his friend, Fred Paez, was killed.
Others have a similar past that led them to Market Square Park. Media production senior Saharah Pecot said she also lost someone close to her because of police brutality.
On June 25, Pecot’s fiancé was driving his cousin to the hospital when police officers opened fire on him without warning, Pecot said. The police were not held at fault, and now Pecot and her fiancé’s family is seeking means to get justice like asking the FBI to investigate the case.
“I think it is a great effort to fight against police brutality,” Pecot said, “Every 30 hours a black man is killed by police. Police are getting away with murder.”
Harassment by police — not just murder — are ongoing issues, said Frank Vedadi.
“I have been harassed by the police. They had drug dogs sniff my car. They have called me names,” Vedadi said.
As he chanted, “HPD, HPD, how many kids have you killed today? HPD, HPD, how many disables have you killed today?” he held a sign reading, “Americans are eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist.”
“I see the problems with police brutality,” Vedadi said. “I plan to do this every year. I want to get a feel for civil disobedience and peaceful protesting.”
Vedadi wants to join the Peaceful Streets Project, an Austin-based police-protesting organization that has operated in Houston for the last month. Some of its members like Natalie Plummer attended the protest.
Plummer was arrested on the corner of West Dallas Street and Nash Street in June for holding a sign reading “Speed Trap.” She said she was standing there for two minutes before an officer came, grabbed her by her backpack and repeatedly told her to stop resisting arrest without reading her rights to her.
Plummer said she never took action against police brutality before she was arrested.
“It’s good to see so many people coming together for a cause,” Plummer said. “It doesn’t happen enough.”
Plummer said she will attend the protest next year.
The coalition protests every Oct. 22 because in 1995, HPD Lieutenant Alan Mabry was “mysteriously murdered.” His death is believed by some, like Hill, to be the work of police.