DANVILLE — Under sunny skies, more than a hundred people gathered and marched along city streets, calling for justice, transparency and accountability in a police officer’s fatal shooting of Tyrell Wilson.
Wilson, 32, died March 17 in the hospital after the March 11 shooting by Danville police Officer Andrew Hall.
Near the end of the march, people slowly walked uphill toward police headquarters before standing outside and listening to multiple speakers, including family members of Oscar Grant and Miles Hall, as well as Wilson’s father Marvin Wilson, who told those present that that he had retired in 2017 after a three-decade law enforcement career in Southern California.
“A lot of people that I worked with, our main goal, if it takes 15 minutes, if it takes an hour: de-escalate,” Wilson said.
“These younger officers, deputies, they’re trigger happy. And the thing is, they’re not only just going after people like me, they’re going after our people that have mental issues going on. A lot of this can be solved by de-escalation. They’re not doing it. They think just because he was homeless, he didn’t have people that cared about him. And I loved that boy to death.”
Wilson said Officer Hall, who fired the single shot that killed his son, “has a problem. He needs to be removed. There needs to be transparency. If this was justified, they would have that out there immediately. Something’s not right. I don’t feel good about this. And they’re trying to dot every I and cross every T that they can. They want this to go away. Not as long as there’s air in my breath.”
Local faith community members echoed Wilson’s words.
“In the Christian world, this is the day we observe as Passion Sunday, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem into a protest against empire, and people were shouting for liberation and deliverance, and here we are protesting the unnecessary killing of Tyrell Wilson,” Danville Congregational Church pastor Todd Atkins-Whitley said.
“There are many people of different races here. We are here because our privilege calls us into this moment into solidarity, and to imagine, especially as a white person with children and grandchildren, if that was one of my children here.”
Protesters gathered at 3:30 p.m. at the Danville Park and Ride near Sycamore Valley Road and Camino before striding out into empty traffic roadways, under watchful eyes of California Highway Patrol officers near the Interstate 680 exits and Contra Costa sheriff’s deputies blocking off streets.
Sevgi Fernandez, founder of social-activist organization Together We Stand, encouraged protesters as they readied to leave the site.
“We have heard that there might be some people out to counter protest what we’re doing,” Fernandez said.
“The worst thing that we can do to people like that is ignore them. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. They do not exist. They will not take us off our message.”
Only a few scattered individuals tried yelling at marchers to go home, but longtime East Bay residents said they weren’t about to back down from doing what they saw necessary to defend their city’s safety.
Many stopped and kneeled at Hartz and Prospect avenues in honor of Laudemer Arboleda, a man fatally shot by Officer Hall in 2018.
Shagoofa Khan, who wielded a bullhorn and led chants along the route, spoke out at the site of Arboleda’s fatal shooting.
“I’m hoping to join city council efforts in defunding the Danville Police Department, as well as showing solidarity to the families of the victims that have been unfortunately taken away by the police department, and I hope that we can continue to fight for justice,” said Khan, who added that she also drew on her experience as an Asian American woman, an Antioch resident and an organizer who sees herself as under threat.
“The police department within the city that I’m from is targeting me for organizing protests, for participating, for organizing […] it’s our calling, it’s our civic duty, it’s what America is about: coming together with other people to fight for justice,” Khan said.
“This is what a democracy is, if we see something wrong with our community, we must come out and fight for justice and we must fight for transparency and accountability.”
Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.
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Author: George Kelly