It was without question the most powerful speech given by a parent whose child was gunned down by police officers. John Crawford Sr. gave a passionate speech that many said was reminiscent of the words, message and spirit of such revolutionaries as Huey P. Newton and Malcolm X. They were much needed words and an important message, that used to be more commonly and freely expressed by the great leaders of an era of resistance and revolution that passed by far too soon.
“We have the power, we outnumber everybody, and that’s including the police!” John Crawford Sr. asserted at his speech in downtown Dayton last Wednesday.
He was in town with Tressa Sherrod, the mother of John Crawford III, to commemorate and protest for the one year anniversary of John Crawford murder by the Beavercreek Police Department.
Tressa had just come from a large protest at the Beavercreek Walmart where her son was murdered. That rally saw four different groups organize for the same event. While many who turned out with the Black Lives Matter crowd opposed firearms, a large group showed up armed, saying things exactly like the sentiments John Crawford Sr. called for in his memorial speech downtown, while the protest at Walmart continued to rage on and keep the store shut down for hours to come.
Tressa called for unity between the groups that turned out, praised their cooperation and urged those who might not agree with the presence of guns at the protest to unite even further with those who were there with them.
It was clear to most why there were guns, ranging from pistols to assault rifles at the protest marking the one year anniversary of her son’s death, and if it wasn’t clear to some, it certainly was after John Sr’s speech.
John Crawford III was murdered for holding a replica of a perfectly legal gun. Many of those who came armed said they were there not only to point out the fact that John Crawford III was doing nothing illegal at all because Ohio is an “Open Carry” state – just as his parents have emphasized. But armed demonstrators made it clear that they were also using the weapons as “protest signs,” to let the police know that there are people out there who will resist unlawful and murderous police actions – when killer cops take aim at innocent people who have broken no laws.
John Crawford Sr. echoed that sentiment.
“I’ve seen 30 people stand idly by while a man is getting beat down in California…” and they do “absolutely nothing about it.”
“Why is that?” he asked.
“Are we going to wait thirty years like the marvelous Merlie Evers?” the mother of Medger Evers. a black civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council.
John Sr. told her, during a conversation, that “we don’t have another 30 years,” adding that at the rate of police murder in the recent years “we won’t be here in another 10 years” if something doesn’t change.
“What are we prepared to do? That was my son; our son; my only child,” he added.
“So whatever i have to do, to go forward – to act – you have to act… you can pray all day, you can’t pray this away, you have to act.”
“God said you must act,” he continued, invoking the Book of James, saying, “Faith without works is what?” Many in the crowd immediately answered back: “Dead!”
“And God also says you have a Godly right to protect what’s yours,” John Sr. continued.
“It’s in the Book, I promise you it is – and it doesn’t matter what Book you’re reading: the Bible, the Qur’an – it’s in there!”
Then things got even more to the point.
“Let me ask you this: how many people right now are bearing arms – concealed weapons permit – now watch this: I guarantee you, if everyone out here would have held their hand up? We wouldn’t have to worry about any problems.”
“Because you’re exercising your Constitutional right,” he continued, adding that “you can do that! Legally!”
John Sr. explained that passively resisting criminal, killer cops is just not working.
“When you’re dealing with a bully, you can’t reason with it! You can’t reason with a bully. You have to eventually fight that bully. You have to let him know that win, lose or draw, I’m gonna fight you every day… And eventually, guess what? And I just hate to be blunt like that but that’s where we are right now – that’s just being real.”
In one of the most powerful and blunt statements, John added that “when some of them die, the problem will diminish… It will go away.”
But he clarified he was not calling for aggression.
“I’m not advocating death. I’m simply saying, inevitably it may go down that way. If it continues to go like its going now it will go down that way cause you can only push people for so long before they’re going to strike back!”
Instead, John was calling for legal self-defense and the defense of others when the community is faced with criminal, killer cops.
“They’re going to defend, and they have a right to defend – you have a right to defend. You have a right to defend yourself. You have a right defend your family. You have that right – a Godly right and a Constitutional right.”
He closed with powerful words that resonated throughout the Court House Square where he was speaking.
“If you’re not ready to die, if you’re not prepared to die, to defend what it is you love…” he said, pausing. At a loss to reason with someone who would not stand up for their loved ones and innocent victims of murder, he could only utter the word: “Mercy.”
“You must ask yourself as a human being,” he went on “Why?”
In closing, he emphasized, “I really want you all to understand what we’re facing: it’s gotten ten times worse in one year. And it’s getting worse every minute. What are we prepared to do?”
Watch the video clip from that speech below…
(Article by Shante Wooten and M. David)