‘We hurtin’ every day’: Kansas City activists stand with mothers of men killed by police

·3 min read

On Sunday, the flowers and cards didn’t come for Terrance Bridges’ mother as they had all the years he was alive.

Bridges was killed by Kansas City police on May 25, 2019. He was 30 years old. Before that day, he called home every Mother’s Day.

“We didn’t get anything but tears,” said Bridges’ sister, Tierra Cox. “Me and my mother had to hug each other.”

Cox flew into Kansas City from Chicago to speak Tuesday at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting. Earlier in the morning, she joined a rally in support of women whose sons were fatally shot by police in Kansas City.

“We hurtin’ every day back in Chicago,” Cox said, adding that the officer who shot her brother still gets to go home each day to his family.

A few dozen people came together on the unseasonably cold May morning at Illus Davis Park behind City Hall, holding signs that read “support moms,” “transparency,” and “local control, Smith must go,” in reference to continued calls to fire police chief Rick Smith.

“On behalf of the mothers whose sons have been killed, we are seeking justice as an entire community,” said Pateisha Royal, with Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, also known as MORE2. “We know that justice comes when those who are in power, when those who have been inflicting injustice are held accountable.”

Royal later performed a spoken word piece she wrote.

“If all lives matter, then tell me, where is Black lives immunity? You’re ‘all lives matter’ is just a cover-up for your own stupidity. We know that they seek to protect the privilege, a white officer’s impunity. There is way too much energy being spent on the oppressive supremacy,” she read aloud.

Together they chanted the names of Bridges, Donnie Sanders, Ryan Stokes and Cameron Lamb, all Black men killed by members of the Kansas City Police Department.

Merlon Ragland, a close family friends of Lamb’s mother, stood in front of the crowd on his family’s behalf, calling for the conviction of Det. Eric DeValkenaere, who fatally shot Lamb sitting in his pickup truck in his backyard.

The detective was indicted last year on charges of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the Dec. 3, 2019, killing of 26-year-old Lamb. DeValkenaere, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to go to trial on July 12.

Ragland called on the police department to put in place quarterly mental health and drug checks, mandated community volunteer hours and policies to improve police-community relations.

As Ragland spoke, Cox raised a photo of Bridges into the air.

Cox said her brother left Chicago in the hope of escaping its violence.

“He had dreams. He had children,” Cox said later, before the police board. “Ya’ll took a Black king. He meant something to us. He meant something to us, we love him. And until we get justice. I’m going to be here.”

The Star’s Glenn E. Rice contributed.