With the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests have exploded all across the country in all 50 states against police violence. Floyd was killed by Officer Derek Chauvin on camera, but there are countless other Black men and women who have been killed by police who don’t have national outrage backing up their families and the fight for justice.
Black Lives Matter is a movement dedicated to remembering their names and bringing their stories back into the light. One of those names is Elijah McClain.
Elijah was a 23-year-old man living in Colorado who died last August when three officers responded to a report of a man wearing a mask and looking “sketchy,” according to the Colorado Sentinel. He supposedly did not stop walking when police told him to and was tackled to the ground. Like Floyd, Elijah told the officers that he could not breathe. He passed out from the lack of air supply but eventually reawakened. Gasping for air, crying, and throwing up, Elijah was injected with 500 milligrams of ketamine and put in an ambulance. He suffered two heart attacks on his way to the hospital and died several days later.
Elijah McClain was a kind and gentle 23 year old who worked as a massage therapist in Aurora, CO. On his lunch breaks...Posted by Hannah Scott on Friday, June 12, 2020
All three officers claim they lost their body cams during the struggle, but an audio transcription of Elijah’s last words were presented in a new petition for justice started by the McClain family.
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*TRIGGER WARNING: violence/murder and a graphic image on slide 8.* DEMAND JUSTICE FOR ELIJAH. Link in my bio with Aurora officials’ numbers you can call, a GoFundMe for Elijah’s mother, and a petition to sign. Slide 2: Elijah’s last words, spoken as police tortured him and held him in a carotid choke hold (transcribed from bodycam footage) Slides 3-5: what happened to Elijah Slide 6: Elijah playing the violin for cats at the pet shop next door on his lunch break. He believed the music put them at ease Slide 7: sign at #blackout2020 in Aurora on 6/6/20, a demonstration to demand justice for Elijah and others. Slide 8: TRIGGER WARNING⚠️ Elijah in hospital following the police attack Slide 9: painting of Elijah surrounded by some of his favourite things or things that represent him, by @mattymillerstudio Slide 10: recent news regarding the investigation. - I recently saw this first video on Twitter along with a few words about #elijahmcclain, who was murdered by AURORA POLICE in August 2019, and since then I haven’t been able to get him and his case out of my mind. It’s so obvious from this video that Elijah was a sweet, gentle, innocent soul with a personality that radiates positive energy. When I started to read more about him, this became even more clear. He was a massage therapist and a self-taught violinist. Friends and family described him as “a spiritual seeker, pacifist, oddball, vegetarian, athlete, and peacemaker who was exceedingly gentle”. Every person who dies at the hands of police deserves justice, whether they are a great person or a terrible one. But the fact that Elijah was seemingly an angel on earth who wouldn’t even hurt a fly (this is actually something he TOLD officers as they attacked him) makes his case extra heartbreaking. Your voice matters: Elijah’s case didn’t get much publicity for the first 8 months after his death, but now people are finally talking about it. Because of this, progress is being made. Police departments are making new rules and a new investigation is being launched for Elijah. But we cannot stop talking about Elijah, and others who suffered a similar fate, until justice is served and the system is changed.
Elijah told the police:
I can’t breathe.
I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain.
That’s my house. I was just going home.
I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all.
I’m so sorry.
I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat.
All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you.
Try to forgive me.
I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work.
(*crying*) Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that.
I just can’t breathe correctly.”
Almost 3 million people have signed the petition, which demands the three officers involved in Elijah’s death be taken off duty and fully investigated. His name is trending on Twitter, along with details about his short life:
Please stop sharing photos of #ElijahMcClain brutalized.— shahid FOXDADDY buttar🌺🇵🇸👔tom CATDADDY steyer (@fOrGiVeNcHy) June 25, 2020
We must remember him for what he was: a gentle soul who loved animals & played the violin to stray cats to calm them "so they won’t be so lonely"
We won't forget you. There isn't a cop in the USA with a heart like yours♥️ pic.twitter.com/X3i8IH9kHp
He played violin for kittens in his spare time.— F Q-C #8 ACAB (@nyaduothg) June 25, 2020
He didn’t eat meat, but didn’t judge others for doing so.
He was a pure soul, wouldn’t even kill a fly.
He told his killers he loved them. Called them beautiful.
Begged them for forgiveness.
You can’t reform that.#ElijahMcClain pic.twitter.com/Uv4o2OBGrt
An Earth Angel. A kind, selfless, and warm hearted soul. You are not forgotten, #ElijahMcClain. You are so missed and loved. The community will fight for you. #JusticeForElijahMcClain #JUSTICEFORELIJAHMCCLAIN pic.twitter.com/0wURHblDTU— Back to Basics 🇳🇬 (@UjuCrystall) June 25, 2020
One of the most painful things about the #ElijahMcClain story is it happened nearly a year ago & many of us are just finding out about it. Literally can’t even imagine the number of unarmed black lives that have ended that went unnoticed. https://t.co/lEO3h99gCy— Eugene Scott (@Eugene_Scott) June 24, 2020
Elijah’s mother Sheneen asked for people to unite in the fight for change.
“I don’t want to be here, and I don’t know anybody that is alive that would want to be in my position,” she said. “Death is not the cure. We are the cure … Stop being divided over whatever your situation is, that never solves anything. What is divided will never stand. So let’s get ourselves together and do something to make some real s**t happen.”