#RekiaMatters: Family Waited 3 Years for (No) Justice
Feature Image: Rekia Boyd’s brother Martinez Sutton
After hearing about 22-year-old Rekia Boyd’s death three years ago I asked, “Who’s rallying for murdered Black women?” At the time, protests were sweeping across the country in remembrance of Trayvon Martin, the teen who was killed by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. While Martin’s name rightly became a cause célèbre, Boyd’s death at the hands of an off-duty Chicago police officer seemed to fade into the background.
Since Martin and Boyd’s deaths three years ago, many more African Americans have been killed by police officers, sparking the Black Lives Matter movement from coast to coast. Last August, after 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, protesters flooded streets, university campuses, and shopping centers to demand justice.
But for who?
In 2012, Servin claimed he heard a disturbance near his home and drove toward a group of men. He alleged one of the men approached him while reaching into his waist and Servin told officials he thought the man had a gun. Servin fired several shots from an unregistered gun over his shoulder, striking Boyd—who was sitting in her car—in the back of the head.
“He was constantly shooting,” said Icka Beamon, a witness who says he ducked for cover. “He was trying to kill all of us.”
Despite calling Servin’s actions intentional and suggesting the officer should have been charged with first-degree murder, Judge Dennis Porter found the Chicago officer not guilty on all charges stemming from Rekia Boyd’s death.
Predictably, tensions ran high after the judge rendered his verdict. Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton, called the officer a murderer and had to be escorted from the courtroom. He continued to vent his frustration on Twitter.
Servin’s acquittal has energized protests in Chicago, but where is the widespread movement for murdered Black women?
While sisters have been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, Black female victims of police violence have been largely overshadowed.
“They never become part of the story of state violence,” Andrea Ritchie, a Soros Justice Fellow, told Bitch magazine last year. “No matter how many women are in the leadership of the movement challenging police brutality, our experiences are never at the center of the conversation.”
Indeed, Black women victims are often left out of conversations on police brutality, but like Black men, we are more likely to be arrested, harmed, or killed by police than our white counterparts. This renders our experience invisible and our voices silent.
Thankfully, many women of color are pushing back against the exclusion of Black women stories, because as Zora Neal Hurston taught us, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”