Around a dozen members of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus of the New York City Council, including the entire executive committee of the caucus, walked out of the Council Chamber to the City Hall Rotunda Tuesday afternoon to protest the failure of the St. Louis County grand jury on Monday to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the August killing of teenager Michael Brown.
The walkout, led by caucus co-chairs Andy L. King of the Bronx and Rosie Mendez of New York, was scheduled during the stated meeting of the City Council– a demonstration that key functions of public life are negatively impacted when all voices are not present.
“The sub-text of this entire walkout was to show the importance of black lives in the legislative process, and political process, to call attention to the injustice of yesterday’s grand jury decision and other incidents where black lives have been lost to police officers,” said Councilmember Cornegy of Brooklyn. “So much of what we take for granted would cease to function if we are not present, if we are not participating.”
Aside from King and Mendez, also in attendance at the conference were City Councilmembers Inez Barron, Margaret Chen, Carlos Manchaca, Antonio Reynoso, Daneek Miller, Robert Cornegy, Laurie Cumbo and Ruben Wills.
Together, the council members read a statement in English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese:
“We stand here today as members of the New York City Council — representatives of our majority minority city — to proclaim in solidarity that Black Lives Matter!
“Black Lives Matter! in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Black Lives Matter in the stairwells of our NYCHA communities.
“Black Lives Matter on the streets of Staten Island.
“And Black Lives Matter in this Chamber.
“In the most progressive city in America, in a body with 26 members of color, we refuse to move forward with business as usual today.
“Not when Michael Brown’s parents will never taste real justice through the criminal justice system.
“Not when young people are putting their bodies on the line, marching in the streets to be met with tear gas, smoke bombs and shields.
“There is no American tradition more patriotic than protest.
“And THAT is why we’re walking out today. The Black story and the American story are inextricably linked. Take us out and things don’t run. This body does not run.
“So today, let it all stop. More than a moment of silence, let us have this time of outrage. And let our action inspire others – in your homes, businesses, churches & communities — to proclaim & demonstrate your belief in the value of black life.
“We stand together because we stand united. Our voices and our lives matter.”