Looking to October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

Stolen Lives Mothers Urge Others to Take a Stand

September 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On September 1, four women sat around in a park, laughing and having a fun time, eating good food, and talking together at the BA Everywhere Picnic Celebration in Harlem, New York. These women -- Iris Baez, Juanita Young, Margarita Rosario and Hala Bah -- have all had their sons stolen from them, murdered by the NYPD. They were also joined by Joshua Lopez whose uncle was shot and killed by the NYPD. Revolution/revcom.us reporter Li Onesto took this special opportunity to sit down and talk with these brave women who have been in the fight to get justice not only for their loved ones, but to put an end to police murder and brutality once and for all.


Revolution: Let’s start off with how you all felt when you heard about the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson -- and then how did you feel when you saw the people rising up against that?

Mothers Cry for Justice - All Out for #O22! Iris Baez & Juanita Young, whose sons were both murdered by the NYPD call on you to join the October Month of Resistance and take the streets on October 22nd!


Nicholas Heyward Sr. on the Month of Resistance

Iris Baez: Well, I felt good because finally somebody did something, you know, and the president is now talking about it. So when it gets to that attention, then you may get an impact. But you can't put your guard down, because just because the president sent somebody to talk to the people, that doesn't mean that he's going -- they're going to do something about it. So just keep an eye on it, because that doesn't mean they're going to do something about it.

Revolution: You want to say something?

Joshua Lopez: My name is Joshua Lopez and I'm from Manhattan. And I lost my uncle to the NYPD three years ago in 2011 in Dyckman in Manhattan.

Revolution: What was his name?

Joshua Lopez: John Collado is my uncle's name.

When I heard about Ferguson, it angered me and it broke my heart. But when I saw people uprising and then like not putting up with what was going on and going to the streets to fight and everything, I felt good about it, because, you know, it's been going on for too long already. It's like we fought with -- we marched with the civil rights movement, we marched with the Black Panthers and we was asking and nothing happened. Everybody that was asking is either dead or in jail. So what should we do? Keep asking? So that's why I agree with the people in Ferguson, what they are doing....

Margarita Rosario: I applaud the people in Ferguson. I wish I was there.

Revolution: Can you tell people your story?

Margarita Rosario: My name is Margarita Rosario. I'm the mother of Anthony Rosario and the aunt of Hilton Vega, who were killed on January 12, 1995 by two ex-bodyguards of Mayor Giuliani, Patrick Brosnan and James Crow.

Ever since my son -- when my son and my nephew were killed, I felt like the world was over. But then I realized that, you know, the other way that I was going to get justice was to stand up and fight. And I applaud people that stand up and fight. I thank people that has always been there for me, to back me up, to help me in doing this fight. And I wish I had been in Ferguson. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it there....

Margarita Rosario: Whatever it was... because it felt good to see the people rise, to see the people fight for justice for the rise of the people. It felt so good to see these people not be afraid. Wow!

Juanita Young: They weren't.

Margarita Rosario: I mean it -- it was like watching a movie, you know? When I saw that on the news, it was like watching a movie. I knew it wasn't a movie, it was REAL.

Juanita Young: Real. Yes.

Margarita Rosario: It was so real that I was like yes, finally, you know? Finally, somebody is doing something, because for years I've been calling for [people to rise up] in New York City...

Juanita Young: For 14 years, I know that she's been calling for it.

Margarita Rosario: And it hasn't happened. And finally, to see, finally, people rise and do it, wow! That was -- that was fantastic. I loved it. And I applaud those people and I hope that they continue to fight, stand up and not be afraid. And New York City, we need to do the same thing. Get up and rise!

Joshua Lopez: That's right.

Juanita Young: That's what people were saying, yes.

Revolution: Hala, can you talk a little bit about who you are and your story?

Hala Bah: Yes. My name is Hala Bah. I'm Mohammed Bah's mother. Mohammed Bah was shot and killed on September 25, 2012 in his own apartment. Mohammed Bah was just a student who was sick who called an ambulance and the police just come shooting in his own apartment. And in Staten Island, when they called the rally, I was the first person on that line.

Revolution:You mean the recent rally to protest the police chokehold murder of Eric Garner?

Hala Bah: Yes. We was there. And we marched from corner to corner, but I couldn't even feel the pain, because it was the same thing, people are looking for to get. And we cannot stop that is for justice fighting. There is still got to change. They cannot play with our children's lives. They cannot play with our brothers and sisters' lives. Since they shoot my son, I just live because I want to fight for his justice. Otherwise, I was thinking it's the end of my life.

So I tell you that six months I couldn't be able to eat food by myself. People was feeding me. I never expect somebody can kill a child who's sick in their own apartment, not doing nothing.

So I think New York again might do the same thing [as Ferguson]. And I call on everyone in September 25, to give me a hand in front of his house by Morningside, 124 Morningside Avenue.

Revolution: And this is the anniversary?

Hala Bah: Yes, that is the anniversary, two years since they killed Mohammed Bah. I can appreciate and we need justice. "No Justice, No Peace!" They started doing that all the time... Now they're doing it to everybody, because they're not found guilty. All the time, they tell them they are not guilty. They don't have no punishment for what they're doing. We need justice. Thank you.

Revolution: Juanita?

Juanita Young: My name is Juanita Young. My son Malcolm Ferguson was murdered on March 1st of 2000. Since they murder of my son, I have led so many other families out here with having had their sons or nephews or family members murdered by the police.

My thing about what's going on is I think these cops, once they are involved in the murder, they should have their guns and badges immediately taken away. They should be suspended pending an investigation, not staying on the force, where they can continue to do more damage. I think that's one thing we need to fight for right now, is when these cops are involved in the murder, because the cop who murdered my son admitted to murdering him. And the system has done nothing to him. So I feel we need to do something besides going to these DAs and going to the Justice Department and saying we want to see something done.

I went to Ferguson because I felt so proud to be part of something where people finally stood up for their rights, even though it was, like they say, a small town, the fact that they were tired. People are really angry at how they were living. It wasn't just the fact that Michael Brown was murdered, it's the fact of what they did and how they did it.

That just set an example for all and every stolen life that's been taken by this law enforcement.

So people need to come out and take a stand and let everybody know that it's a way out of this. And if it means coming out, taking the street, do it. Thank you.

Revolution: Let me ask you this, what does it mean for you -- mothers of sons who have been murdered by the police -- to have each other? I mean I know some of you have been together in this fight for a long time.

Margarita Rosario: Well, you know, right now, I never have met [Joshua Lopez] -- I don't know if I've met this young man before. But right now, it feels good to know that young people like him are standing up. He's sitting here with us, listening to our stories, because he's been hurt. He's gone through the same thing that we've gone through, you know?

He lost an uncle. And it's good to see that he's going to take a stand, he's taking a stand on this. And he's a young man. So as the mothers that we've been together fighting for years -- it makes us stronger when we get together. It makes us stronger to know that I could lean on Juanita, I could lean on Mrs. Baez...

If I was to go to a rally or a speaking engagement and I get too emotional, I know that either one of them would hold my hand and tell me don't worry, because I know what you're going through, I've been there. And so that's like a support for me, knowing that these families are there to support me and for me to support them.

Juanita Young: When my son was murdered, Mrs. Baez and Mrs. Diallo came to my house. I was in pure shock. I'm like I knew them because of the news. And then they said, we came to see you. Just sitting with them gave me such a feeling, that I was able to handle what I needed to do a little bit better.

And then after I had buried my son and whatever and I went to a few meetings and I started meeting Margarita, I met Nicholas Heyward [whose son was murdered by the NYPD], just to know there were so many people out there that understood the pain that I was feeling, because when you talk to a lot of people, they'll say, oh, I don't know how you feel or I can understand your pain. No you can't. If you don't walk the walk we walk, you don't understand our pain. The pain we suffer has no expression or words. You can't touch the pain we feel....

Hala Bah: And this needs to stop. What's happening to us, we don't want it should happen to the others. It's got to stop. We can't believe how can those people can have their own children, love them and point a gun toward another people and shoot as fun, make as fun in my children, my son, three people shoot a sick person on their own bed. Why? They are making fun. That's my son. That's my son. That's my whole life....

Juanita Young: But that's what they don't realize. When they kill a person in a family, it don't just affect the person they murdered, it affects the whole family. How you could go home and hug your wife or your kids and say I love you and you done destroyed a whole family. I don't understand how they justify that with theyselves. I just don't understand.

Hala Bah: I don't get myself the same thing. I don't think they are thinking twice, because I love all kids. I love all young people. I love all children, because I love mine. And I help. I used to help work and help the less fortunate people. But now, since they killed my son, it's like I'm handicapped.

Revolution: One thing that I get really strongly from all of you is that you're motivated in this fight to fight for the justice for your children. But it's also more than that. Is that right?

Juanita Young: Yes.

Revolution: Could talk a little bit about that.

Margarita Rosario: See, our kids are gone and buried already. In my case, Baez and Juanita, it's been years already. But yet we're still out here. So that means that we care for our human beings. We care for our young people in the city that we live in. We want to make sure that young people don't continue to get hurt as they've been getting hurt.

Joshua Lopez: And they don't want no other mother to feel the pain that they feeling, that what they going through right now, because no mother should have to bury their son, especially by people that we look for protection. We pay cops for protection. And they murdering our kids, our family, uncles, brothers. And no mother should have to bury their son.

Hala Bah: Imagine like my kid, a 28 years old boy. Who wants to bury a 28 year student? Would you expect that person to get married, have a son...Who wants to bury a child? Nobody wants that. So I'm here for the justice. What's happened to me, I don't want no mother to have that same feeling.

Iris Baez: By putting the word out, we want other mothers -- don't wait until it happens to you, because a bullet don't have a name. So don't wait until they knock on your door and tell you that your son. Get involved. Get involved, October 22nd at 12:00...

Juanita Young: 14th Street in Union Square.

Revolution: I'm glad you said that, because October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation is part of the October Month of Resistance and that was exactly my next question. How you see the importance of this Month of  Resistance.

Margarita Rosario: Well, that day is very important because we've been participating in October 22nd for years. And the way that we bring change is by continuing to spread the news around. And October 22nd, that's what they do, they spread the word out about families who have lost their children. They bring families who have lost their children to speak and have a voice, so our children have a voice that day. So that's why it's important for all families to come out and speak on that day.

Revolution: October 22 will be a nodal point in this whole month of resistance against this whole program of mass incarceration and police terror and the criminalization of Black and Latino people, especially the youth...

Hala Bah: We need more and more. We need more and more... Stand up now. Join with us. Fight for justice. Fight for our rights. We love our children. We love them the same thing how they love their own. This should stop.

Joshua Lopez: I think it's very important for all of us to get together and unite for the Month of Resistance, to get our voices out there, to be heard. And we must put an end to all this madness going on with our government.

Juanita Young: I'm calling for the youth to come out and stand with the mothers, even if you never had no one murdered or harassed or have nobody in prison, come stand with the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, because don't wait until your mother has to come out and sit like us parents are doing to tell the story of what happened to their child. Come and stand so your parents cannot -- or do not have to be in the position of burying you. Stand up. Make a difference. Come out on October 22nd.

Margarita Rosario: And we must -- the reason that we need to come out is because we don't want what happened in Ferguson to happen here. The way they killed that young man... the way they killed Michael Brown and not only the way they killed him, but what took place afterwards, to leave a young man laying on the street, not to allow his mother to even go near him, do we want to see that here? No. So you need to come out, because we need to stop those kind of actions from the police department.

Juanita Young: Don't forget October 22nd, 1:00, 14th Street, Union Square. We're going to march from 14th Street to 42nd. Come and join the Parents Against Police Brutality. Thank you.

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