Even though Constance Malcolm (pictured center left) and Franclot Graham’s (pictured center right) buried their 18-year-old son last year, after he was shot by the NYPD, the two parents managed to show a powerful resilience on their son’s anniversary, one that proved they were stronger than the tragedy that changed their lives forever.
On Febraury 2, 2013, the one-year anniversary of their son Ramarley Graham’s (pictured above) murder, the duo kept things together for the crowd that showed up to rally for the 18-year old at the home where his life abruptly ended. It was this very house Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit officer Richard Haste chased young Ramarley into. Haste and colleagues were staking out a nearby bodega suspected as a front for drug activity, when Ramarley exited and began fidgeting with what Haste claimed looked like a gun in his waistband.
After identifying themselves as police officers, Ramarley reportedly bolted for his grandmother’s second-floor apartment in the three-story house. Cameras show Ramarley calmly entering the home, with Officer Haste frantically running after him and breaking down the front door. Sargent Scott Morris was also at the scene.
Watch the surveillance video of the cops pursuing Ramarley here:
A brief struggle in the upstairs bathroom between Ramarley and Haste culminated in a gunshot wound to the chest that ended a life full of promise. Perhaps the only crime Ramarley committed was reportedly flushing marijuana down the toilet when he was shot.
As is often the case with these types of incidents, no weapon was found on Ramarley’s body.
On Saturday, the crowd rallied around the parents at 749. E 229th Street in the Bronx’s Wakefield section to remind them that they weren’t alone in their grief. And as Franclot and Constance lead the group in protest to the 47th Precinct Haste and Morris operate from, they showed that they were committed to getting justice for their son.
Constance marched with a sign that read, “NYPD, We Are Tired Of Hearing, ‘I Thought He Had A Gun’” while Franclot chanted, “I Am Ramarley!”
Watch video of Franclot Graham and Constance Malcolm marching for Ramarley here:
“I miss when Ramarley would go cut his hair and come back and he [didn’t] wanna say, ‘Mom, look at me,’” Constance reminisced about her son. “He just [stood] there and [had] his hand brushing the top of his head, like, ‘I’m cute. Look at me.’”
“In the morningtime, nobody [got] to sleep in the house because the music [was] blasting because he loved music. These are the things I’m gonna miss. Sometimes I might oversleep now because the music’s not on. I knew once the music came on I had to get up because it was blasting so loud.”
Ramarley was also shy around the ladies, a side that his mother had never seen. “We didn’t know he had a girlfriend. She used to call the house, but I didn’t know who she was. And I was like, Why [is] this young girl calling the house when she’s supposed to be in school? But she was actually calling him to walk her to school, which I didn’t know until after he passed.”
After leading protests for Haste’s dismissal at the precinct, Constance and Franclot lead the group to Crawford Memorial Methodist Church, where Ramarley’s funeral was held. Here, Ramarley’s parents made it clear that this protest march wasn’t just for their boy.
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. (pictured below center), whose elderly father was shot dead by White Plains officers in his apartment in November 2011, and Juanita Young, whose unarmed son, Malcolm Ferguson, was killed by NYPD officers in March 2000, among others, also spoke out.
This wasn’t just a rally to remind people of a kid whose only crime was having marijuana on him, it was for all victims of senseless police violence.
“With the support of the people, [they] keep me going,” Constance said. “Fighting for justice for Ramarley, and not just for Ramarley, for all the other victims and the people [who] didn’t get victimized yet [who] gonna be victimized. Me being out there, talking to people, other family members that’s in the same situation as me — that’s what keeps me going.”
“We wanted to remind people not to be sad but to look at this as a turning point in terms of trying to educate other people what to do and what not to do when stopped by the police,” said Khadijah Shakur, a member of the New Black Panther Party. “We had members of the Central Park Five that were here, so it was good that they came here today to commemorate the life and legacy of Ramarley Graham, to let people know that he didn’t die in vain.”
“It’s important when families stand up and fight for justice,” Jason Corley, a rally participant from Jamaica, Queens, commented outside the church. But participating in the march was more personal for Corley because police violence has hit close to home.
“Back in 1994, a person I went to school with, his cousin, was killed by the police. That same year, a kid that I grew up with was killed by the police — hanged at the 6th Precinct. He was literally hanged in his cell.
“They say he committed suicide. They said there was a belt in his cell that was found around his neck. Yet he was wearing loafers, no shoelaces, and his pants didn’t have belt latches; he wasn’t wearing a belt. These incidents made me personally aware of police brutality.”
Even after the church speakout ended and people began leaving, Constance’s spirit persevered. “We have the court day, which is March 26th. That’s another hearing, and after that hearing, we[re] gonna get started on the trial,” she noted.
“The indictment was last year, but indictment doesn’t mean anything. A conviction is what we want. We are not accepting anything less than a conviction for Richard Haste because of the crime he committed. He was a criminal when he committed this crime. So he should be treated as a criminal.”
See more photos from the rally below: