CLEVELAND — Military Humvees and SWAT vehicles were still lined up outside the justice center in Downtown Cleveland on Saturday ready to jump into action, but they weren’t needed with a peaceful day of protesting. Hundreds, if not thousands of people marched in solidarity honoring and demanding justice for Desmond Franklin and countless others who were killed at the hands of police officers.
They marched with their fists held high and their demands for immediate action against racial injustice, police brutality echoed through Cleveland’s second district. Protestors marched from the Cleveland Police Department’s second precinct building to West 25th Street. A location Desmond Franklin’s family, who marched alongside protestors, knows all too well.
“I’m my son’s voice. I’m my son’s voice and it’s going to be heard around the world,” Franklin’s father told the crowd.
Franklin, who was just 22 years old and a father of four, was shot and killed near West 25th Street and Pearl Road by Cleveland police officer, Jose Garcia, on April 9. Police confirmed Garcia was off duty without a police patrol car, a badge or uniform. The incident is under internal investigation and Garcia remains on restricted duty.
“Why is this man without no badge, without no uniform on able to kill my damn brother without no damn answers. Without no answers. We need answers,” Franklin’s brother said.
His name is now known by strangers, including Chioma Elechilhe, a third-year medical student at Case Western Reserve University.
“I’m a black woman and it’s incredibly difficult to imagine the suffering that George Floyd suffered, Desmond Franklin suffered, Tamir Rice suffered So it’s really important to be here,” Elechilhe said.
70-year-old Diane Howard, who marched in the 60s during the Civil Rights Movement, joined the crowd pleading that enough is enough. She says justice and solidarity is needed now and the violence in black communities needs to end.
“I’m going to fight until the day I die. As long as God gives me strength and I walk by faith and not by sight as long as God gives me strength,” she said.