there is no justice for aiyana

there is no justice. not for aiyana stanley jones.

there is punishment, and perhaps accountability. someone to point towards, many people, a trail of blame, stories, mistakes and tears.

but there is no justice.

i’m just home from a vigil for aiyana. i don’t like to go to these things because they make me feel too raw and hopeless. my partner, however, knew that we had to go and make sure aiyana’s story was told. so here it is: she was alive yesterday, 7 years old. she went to bed on a couch in a first floor room with her grandmother last night. in the wee hours of the morning, cops raided her house. a man outside the house shouted that there were kids inside. a man on the second floor of the house was a suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old last Friday.

the police threw a “flash bang” through the front window. it blinded everyone inside; it lit aiyana on fire.

the news reported a tussle with the grandmother, during which the firearm discharged. everyone in the family says there was no tussle, that the grandmother was throwing herself over the baby when aiyana was shot in the head.

what do you call the blinded, terrified groping of a grandmother who knows her grandchildren are in the room, blasted from safety and sleep into chaos and danger, whose granddaughter is on fire? how do you comfort a man like aiyana’s father, which was forced to lie face down in his daughter’s blood by the same police officers who killed her?

the police shot and killed aiyana. they shot her in the forehead. her family saw her brain on the couch. by accident, perhaps. which doesn’t even matter to a 7-year-old. you don’t get let off any hooks for your intentions in this case, officer.

apparently a crew from the television show 48 Hours were with the police during the raid. i can’t help but wonder what their footage shows, and if filming for the show had anything to do with the drastic tactics and fatal timing – flash bombing a home in the middle of the night when the women and children are most likely to be home and sleeping.

standing on the sidewalk with over 100 black people, some shell-shocked, some sharing bits and pieces of the tragic gossip, some railing against the mayor, some staring at each other or holding each other in quiet sadness…i only saw the children. they were running, kicking, punching each other. playing. they were all 7 to me, however big or small. they were all potentially aiyana. yesterday she was with them, today she is martyred for no cause.

several members of imam luqman‘s family were present, in prayer as we approached the house, present in solidarity with the particular grief of losing a loved one to violence at the hands of authority figures.

as we left the crowd, a man walked past us – more literally was dragged past us, barely able to walk, wailing in grief. his voice ripped through the southern twilight on the street, the realest voice there. i had spent the whole day around beautiful, vibrant children – little boys who ran circles around me and kicked everything because they were ninjas, and then grabbed my hands gently and easily to cross the sidewalk. and then i held a 2-day-old baby, totally fresh, just barely opening his eyes to say hello. what is more valuable than our children? this man, stumbling down the sidewalk weeping – this is how it feels when society offers up our babies as human sacrifices in pursuit of an unattainable justice.

i wanted to hold him. i wanted to say it would be ok, that there would be justice for aiyana. but i don’t believe, right now, there is any real justice for the violent deaths of our youth.

every thread i pick up in the story leads to more impossible questions.

why are police officers legally able to use military tactics on a house with children in it on a sunday morning…or any morning, on any house, with anyone in it?
why do the grieving faces of people on this street look so unsurprised?
and when 17-year-old Jerean Blake was killed Friday, wasn’t that equally devastating? did we do enough as a community at that moment?
do we know how to keep our children safe?
can we admit that we don’t know anything about how to be the kind of society where this could never happen?

to step back from the immediate events is to see what happens in communities who internalize the corporate military worldview that some people are expendable. the way we function as an economy that places profit first is that it’s normal for people in uniform to throw bombs into the home of civilians and shoot children.

an economy that valued people first could never justify those tactics.

i think of the children in my life – those blessed and loved and safe, and those who will never really be safe because of how the world sees them. the way aiyana died, the last minutes of her life – that is terrorism. to know that that kind of terror and pain can happen to a child in this time – IS happening to children, funded by our tax dollars, right now, in iraq, afghanistan, palestine, arizona, and here in detroit – is to understand that as things stand, there is no justice. nothing will make it right, nothing will take away the pain, nothing will heal us – and anyway, there is no time to heal. not for aiyana.

detroit police, at the behest of the detroit city government, are on the offensive in this war against our community. this is national in scope – international really. we cannot keep half-healing from the wounds inflicted on us – we have to fundamentally shift the way we participate in our lives and in the creation of our local economies and societies. we have to demand that police fundamentally shift how they are allowed to function in our communities – they must be disarmed, we must demand they focus their training on the humanity of communities, unlearning these tactics of creating devastation from a safe distance.

we have to make today’s events impossible – that is the only way to regain our humanity. then, maybe, we can use the word justice.

Author: Adrienne

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your uprising against the forces of darkness has got to do more than say "no." A fierce, primal yes should be at the heart of your crusade. (rob brezny, long ago)

54 thoughts on “there is no justice for aiyana”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and experience. This was truly touching. I can’t even pretend to identify with what you experienced at the vigil, let alone family and friends if little Aiyana. The only thing I can do is pray for the future/safety of upcoming generations. Again, thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you for this beautiful personal touch…the whole day news reports being done in such a generic fashion, has been tearing at me…She was a baby…..a little girl. and nothing they say can make this horrible thing ok…no warrants, no investigations, no nothing…

  3. Thank you, sister, for your fierceness, openness and love. Your words and intentions are a salve for our collective grieving soul.

  4. Thank you for reporting the community’s side of this story. I had only heard what was in the news. This is an American tragedy.

  5. beautifully written. my thoughts and prayers are with Aiyana and her family.

  6. @ilana. Man this just broke me down. U kno I faced bein ripped from my kids for 20 yrs. Thankfully I’m still here. This makes me so sik. Today was oonas 5 th bday I cannot imagine what mothers and grandmothers and people go thru in their hearts and minds. I am still crying for this family. Goddamn. No matter how bad or good children r so innocent. None more important than the next, I’m sik with it. Thanks for fbookin this I didn’t even kno. I didn’t watch the news nor do I. Bcuz u r rite people r totally unsurprised by this kinda shit and that’s even more sickening.

  7. Does unarming the police not mean that the people must also be unarmed? The question becomes, then, why does any person need to bear arms, really.

    Once a teacher illustrated a scenario for us that was apparently real in Europe durin WWII. I never truly understood what point he was trying to make until I finished reading this. During the war, many cities in Europe were without police. Those that were without police saw a near disappearance of crime. We were to consider that scenario for a time. Sort of a “what came first…” sort of question, but food for thought. If there are no police, then there is no crime.

    This is the first news ice heard of this young girl. How terrible and sad. I feel so sad for the young kids in her area. What a way to grow up, with violence like this around their homes.

  8. Thanks, for writing this. So true that no society based on dignity, compassion, justice and respect for humanity would allow this. Enough is enough.

  9. I’m Not From The USA But I’m So Sad In Hearing This Story. My Prayers An Blessing Go Out To All The Family An Friends. Thank_You Very Much For Sharing This Story. The Way It Was Written Was From The Heart An Soul. Much Respect.

  10. Thank you for being an eloquent voice for your community. This is tragic and unexplainable. My thoughts and prayers for with Aiyana’s family today.

  11. Thank you for sharing and keeping the full horror in this story. I am appalled at these actions and maybe if enough view this story we can have a out pouring cry and movement against this ongoing violence. It should not happen to children or anyone for that matter. My prayers go out to this Aiyana’s family and friends and all others in similar situations.

  12. My heart and prayers go out to everyone that blessed child had touched in her short life. How terribly painful it is to lose a child but in such a manor… how horrible for the whole family.


  13. Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience. The social justice community is lucky to have people like you that can manage the balance of compassion and asking the tough important questions.

  14. Monday, May 17, 2010

    Event: Protest the Police Killing of 7 Year Old Girl in Detroit
    Location: Wayne State University Law School, Palmer between 2nd and Cass, 1:00pm
    Sponsor: Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality (DCAPB), MECAWI
    Contact: 313.399.7345 or 313.671.3715

    Seven Year Old Killed in Detroit Police Operation; Demand Attorney General Eric Holder Launches a Federal Probe Into Local Law Enforcement at the WSU Law School, 1:00pm

  15. police, media, economics, violence…

    family, first voice, culture, love…

    the solution is in standing for our values and not relenting until those values are matched by the form and structure of the society in which we live…

    thanks adrienne…your words are beautiful and potent, the situation is dire and the time is now.

    another world is possible
    another U.S. is necessary…

  16. Do we know the name of the officer? He *must* go down for manslaughter. If he does not, then then community will need to take more drastic measures.

    Of course, the mayor and police chief must be removed regardless, but we can do more than merely firing them if they don’t send this cop to jail.

  17. Thank you for your compassionate outrage and hopeful witness in the face of such insanity. The only thing to do is keep working to “make these events impossible.” Your words, and work, help make for a better tomorrow.

  18. I can’t add anything to what you said. It’s so powerful, so painful. All I can think is “poor baby.” She didn’t deserve to die. Nobody deserves to die like that. Thank you for putting this into words.

  19. I cannot tell you how struck I am by this story and how horrible it must have been for the family. I simply cannot believe that no one is putting the time and effort into stopping all of this. Stopping the police from excessive force…stopping the mean streets and giving the children there a real shot at life. Is there anything taht can be done to fix this? Are there enough people removed from the situation who feels it is time enough for things to change? That would be the only justice in the death of Aiyana…though her parents would not agree. I know that because I wouldn’t.


  21. You are a beautiful and powerful writer, and your words imbue Aiyana’s story with an intense sense of urgency the mass media could never muster. Thank you for your work.

  22. round of applause! I normally avoid reading commentary when a post makes perfect sense. I am glad that I read the comments here because the affirmation is astounding. Your brazen, brilliant, outspoken words ring loudly in my head as I read this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


  24. This is a pain that even our ancestors can feel.
    Yr writing is amazing. I hope it helped ease some of the trauma you experienced throughout all of this.
    Because this entire event is tragic and also traumatic.

  25. Detroit was my second home growing up in the mid 70s. I having nothing but wonderful memories of family, friends and a whole bunch of love. It saddens me when I see such tragedy happen to our precious little ones who are only responsibility is to be just an adorable child in the community.

    We should take every care and precuation to protect them at all cost. No matter if they are ours or the neighbors. At least that’s the way it used to be during my childhood. When we send them to bed at night we are assuming that are safe from all harm and then we go to sleep. No parent should have to experience this senseless tragedy from the folks that’s suppose to help protect our children safety.

    Such a beautiful little one ~ reminds me of my precious grandkids and nieces her age ~ taken from her family, neighborhood, schoolmates without regard of her presence. What do we do besides grieve until God heals our broken hearts. Changes will have to be made in how the overall police apprehension policy currently in place throughout the nation. We hear to much about children being caught in the crossfire.

    My heart goes out to her family at such times that they are trying to wonder is this a dream, but only to realize it’s a reality. This is how we use to grieve…together. Let’s go back to our roots and help raise each other’s children. Maybe then we won’t have 17 year olds getting killed at a young age either. Maybe we can be more concerned about our neighbors instead of being in a “me” world. Let’s return to God the founder, guider of our lives and be morally conscious of for our actions.

  26. Oh, my God. I’m here through a link from an LJ friend, & this is the first I’d heard about this. What a horrible thing. Any comfort I could wish for Aiyana’s family feels hollow.

    It reminded me of a police raid here in NYC–I couldn’t remember the victim’s name, so I searched on “‘new york’ ‘flash grenade’ grandmother.” 2 of the 1st 10 results were about Alberta Spruill, 57 years old, who in May 2003 died of a heart attack after cops threw a flash grenade into her apartment & handcuffed her because they’d been told there was a suspect there who had guns & drugs. At least 4 of the rest were about Aiyana Jones. The NY police changed procedures after Alberta Spruill died–“only” 2 flash grenades were used in the next 3 years, as opposed to 150 times! in the previous year–but no one else seems to have learned the lesson.

    When authorities decide there’s a “bad guy” in a home, they think they’re justified in going in blasting. Only after a horror like this happens do they realize many of “those people” are innocents. Then they review their procedures, after it’s too late for the victims & their families. Then they take measures to keep it from happening again (or at least make it less likely, for a while), instead of preventing it from happening in the 1st place.

    Adrienne, thank you for what you’ve written about this & the eloquence with which you said it. I hope your questions get answered. I agree there can’t be justice for Aiyana; I hope we can get closer to learning how to be a society where this can’t happen. There’s such a long way to go.

  27. This is gruesome and not acceptable! This is a tragedy of undefinable measures. This makes me angry, and I don’t get angry easy.
    My thoughts are with the family and when you speak of justice , yes there should be – but justice does not restore things, this is a loss that can never be restored. This should never have happened – DEMAND training and prevention and lets get it straight – in answer to your question – NO ONE IS EXPENDABILE. That is fundamental to all that is good and the supposed a core principles we live by.
    This is a crime and charges should be made, and a civil claim of at the very least negligence … and reflects larger social issues and an affront to humanity. No child, grandmother, family or community should have to be a victim, and suffer an eternal outcome, of irresponsible police work. Sometimes it is better to be careful and thoughtful.
    The only good that can come of this is to let people know things have to change. That ‘we’ have to do better. We have to return to caring about ‘us’ and each other. We need to make a better world, to change the cultural mix we all live in to increasingly value respect and kindness and to make every citizen a steward of each other, our neighbourhoods, our communities and this world -To strengthen the fabric of humanity, and community and create a sustainable and healthy future for all.
    This is a horrible tragedy I hope will never be repeated – but that alone doesn’t change what has been lost – nothing ever can.

  28. My heart, my heart this incident is so sad and shows the value this country place on our children. Who, how, and when will we stand up to protect our most precious lives?

  29. … heartbreaking. This kind of violence MUST be top priority to our communities and nation leaders. Much love.

  30. thank you for sharing adrienne! I felt more of the essence of whats going on with this post more than the news reports.


  31. When I first read about this there was very little information. I looked at the comments below the news story and they were all immediately politicized: Damned police! or Damned criminals!. At the time, for those of us far from Detroit, there wasn’t enough information to rightfully damn anyone; there was only enough information to know that another human tragedy had occured. It saddens me that the majority are unable to just feel the tragedy and mourn; they immediately must blame.
    As more information trickles out, though, it is looking more and more that this is another case of either reckless or truly abusive police behavior. This heightens the sense of tragedy for me, because it’s a problem we’ve known about for a long time, but we don’t solve while it continues to take lives. The tragedy is no longer one of individual human mistakes but one of the failure of civilization.

  32. This is the first time I’ve heard about this. I can’t imagine how you much feel or what you are going through. I’m also surprised this hasn’t hit a big news show yet, this is just horrific!

    I know nothing I say will make you feel any better, but I send my condolences and my prayers.

  33. Tragic.

    Thank you for your witness. Problems must be named to be corrected — would that we could do so without our young dying.

    My prayers are with her family for a joyful reunion in a future time and place.

  34. My heart is heavy with pain from your story – A nation screams in pain.

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