Published: Friday, November 08, 2013
By Ashley Sword
Press & Guide Newspapers
DEARBORN HEIGHTS — About 50 people gathered in front of the police station Thursday evening to protest the shooting death last weekend of a 19-year-old Detroit woman.
Renisha McBride died after she was shot at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday on the front porch of a house on Outer Drive, just north of Warren Avenue. According to published reports, she had been in a car crash. Family members said she went to look for help at residences in the area after her cellphone battery died.
McBride reportedly was shot by a resident of the house.
“We are here to stand up for a better America for our children,” said Dream Hampton, a writer who helped organize the protest.
“Renisha could’ve easily been me, your daughters, your sons.”
Throughout Hampton’s speech, residents chanted: “Justice for Renisha” and “No justice, no peace.”
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-Michigan chapter, asked the crowd:
“Had she been a white woman and the shooter a black man, would the shooter be sitting comfortably at home watching TV today?”
“What we need, this man needs to be arrested.”
Sam Riddle of the National Action Network attended to extend condolences to the community.
“Save the lives of women and children while you can,” he said.
As a dozen people stood up to speak in front of the crowd, signs were held up behind them. They said: “Don’t shoot. I’m a loving black woman,” “We demand justice” and “This is a crime.”
David Bullock of Detroit said those attending the protest were seeking justice.
“We stand here tonight to demand justice,” he said. “No matter the color, we are all human beings. We have to get over the class and race. It is time to come together as one family. We can’t let the system that should deliver justice off the hook.”
“Is black life worth anything?” asked Ashley Walker, also of Detroit. “No one seems to care about us.”
Hampton concluded the protest, saying:
“This was an individual with dreams, an unarmed teenager. I called you here tonight because I’m heartbroken, enraged.”
The protest was set to begin at 6 p.m. Initially, a spokesman told the media that an attorney had advised McBride’s family not to conduct the protest. However, people began arriving and the protest began in the parking lot of the police station at about 6:30 p.m. It lasted for about 90 minutes.
A megaphone was passed around to anyone who wished to speak. About a dozen people spoke, some as young as about 10 years old.
The protest was peaceful and broke up soon after Hampton finished her remarks.
The incident has become national news, with several commentators comparing McBride’s death with that of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last year. Martin, who was black, was shot by George Zimmerman, who is white. After a trial that drew international attention, Zimmerman was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
McBride also was black. Police have not released information about the resident who fired the shot.
McBride’s aunt, Bernita Spinks, told The Detroit News she believes it was a case of racial profiling.
“He shot her in the head … for what? For knocking on the door,” Spinks told the newspaper. “If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911.”
Despite several requests, the Police Department has declined comment for this report. A message left with Police Chief Lee Gavin seeking comment was not returned.
However, according to published reports, Lt. James Serwatowski, chief detective, said the shooter is “claiming — believed the girl was breaking into the home. And he’s also saying the gun discharged accidentally.”
Serwatowski also told the newspaper that McBride was not shot in the back of the head, as her family has said. No additional details were released.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office returned a warrant request to the Police Department on Thursday for further investigation. A spokeswoman said the prosecutor’s office will not be able to decide on issuing any charges until the requested work has been completed.