That’s a picture of Charleena Lyles. She’s a mother of four. She was pregnant. She called 911 to report a burglary. Police arrived to her home in northeast Seattle and shot her multiple times, killing her in front of three of her very young kids.
This happened on Sunday morning. I learned about it by about noon. Nick and I had been being lazy in our apartment. We’d cooked a big breakfast in our kitchen. I opened my phone to scan Facebook and the news and saw the report shedding light on this developing nightmare.
I got on the phone with a couple activist friends. We decided to wait to see what the family and community of color was going to do in the way of a vigil. We didn’t have to wait long before this post went up on Facebook. As you can see, I then shared it:
Nick and I were at the grocery store when a plan finally came together with a few friends to get to Magnuson Park to be with Charleena’s family for the vigil. I arrived close to 8:00 p.m. to find a crowd of about 100 people at the scene of the murder, Charleena’s apartment. We listened to her family members, as well as the brother of Che Taylor, a young man shot and killed by Seattle Police about a year ago. Here are pictures I snapped:
Many folks were crying, shouting, overwhelmed with grief. Some lit candles and laid flowers in a makeshift memorial. We changed things like, “NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE! NO RACIST POLICE!” and “WE WANT JUSTICE RIGHT NOW!”
Mayoral candidates Nikkita Oliver and Bob Hasegawa were there and spoke, Jessyn Farrell showed up as well. There were notable absences. Our current Mayor Ed Murray was not there. Neither was mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan.
I saw a lot of Neighborhood Action Coalition members there, it was a show of solidarity that our Coalition has become persistent with. We show up when it matters and even if it’s for a breaking, last-minute vigil where we have to drop our previous plans.
I’m not sure what’s next. Before this happened there was a Black Lives Matter march planned for Downtown Seattle on July 9 to protest the acquittal of the officer who killed Philando Castile in Minnesota. We haven’t heard yet how this event may be changed in light of Charleena’s murder. This was the event page on Facebook prior to the murder Sunday:
I am so angry and distraught over this. I want the world to change! Our systems must change! Police need to de-escalate, not shoot! I will keep you updated on what happens next.
Here are the other headlines crossing The Washington Post in the past few days: