Mr. EZELL FORD, 25
Birthdate unknown, 1989? – August 11, 2014
Los Angeles, CA
Communion music: The Heavenly Aeroplane
Ezell Ford was an unarmed black man shot and killed by police in August, 2014, in Los Angeles, CA. The shooting occurred just two days after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and was overshadowed in national news by the angry protests outside Ferguson police headquarters.
At his August 30 funeral, Ford’s grandmother, Dorothy Clark said, “You’re so wonderful to think of and so hard to live without.” Reporting from the funeral, LA Times’ Gale Holland wrote:
On a breezy Saturday morning in southwest Los Angeles, they came by the hundreds to lay Ezell Ford to rest and to protest the fatal shooting by police of an unarmed black man struggling with mental illness. “This is the breaking point,” Maurice Bull, 46, one of Ford’s cousins, said outside the funeral service at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city’s oldest black pulpit. “It’s got to stop.” “The cop that killed him, he knows all of the kids over there,” said Lakisha Cardy, 39, who said her children grew up with Ford.
Conflicting accounts have emerged about the Aug. 11 killing of Ford, 25, who family said had been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia and who, after the onset of mental illness, became a “drifter” who walked the neighborhood “endlessly,” asking for cigarettes. (Click here to see the disputed facts.)
Tonight (January 3, 2014) was the first night anyone asked about the music-stand display of a name in the prayers. J, with whom a great discussion flowed quite naturally. I’m over the moon! There are silent people here, who know, and care. And now that J has begun the conversation at the parish, it can continue.
Here’s the gist of the conversation, as J was leaving past my autoharp station by the piano:
“Was Mr. Ford a friend of yours?”
“No, he was a Black man who died when the police made a mistake.”
“Oh! I should have known….”
“It’s not your fault this name is not familiar– his death got lost in the Ferguson story.”
Later, as J came back into the church while I was putting away my gear and locking doors:
“J, I want to thank you for asking about Mr. Ford. I’ve just started doing this and I wasn;t sure how people would take it.”
“These things are happening too often… it’s terrible.”
“Yes, and it all happens faster than anybody could think what is happening.”
“My [relative] is a cop in [state]. I worry what kind of things he may have to deal with and how he will deal with it.”
“Yes… we need those body cameras to protect everyone, and better anti-racism training for all police. They don’t wake up one day and decide to kill a Black man. The trigger is pulled before they can think.”
And so forth.
Tonight was also the first night I was able to print off all the internet information I had gathered, and insert it into the binder; I hope to add the material about those already memorialized into it next weekend, along with the sheet protectors for each sign to act as each person’s section dividers. I can update that as the various justice efforts proceed; most of these families are awaiting DOJ and lawsuit results, with a few having already gone through a trial of the police officers.