Demanding Justice for Aiyana Jones

Back in June, before George Zimmerman was acquitted on charges of murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, a jury failed to reach a decision in the case of Joseph Weekley, the police officer responsible for shooting and killing seven year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit on May 26, 2010. The young girl was asleep in her home when Detroit’s version of SWAT entered, looking for a murder suspect that lived in the apartment on the level above Aiyana and her family, and Weekley fired a single shot that struck her in the head and killed her.

According to a Change.org petition, started by Jamila Aisha Brown of Hue Global, “On July 25, 2013 Wayne County Judge Cynthia Hathaway reconvene to determine whether Weekley will face retrial for Aiyana’s murder.” It further asks: “Please voice your support to retry Joseph Weekley’s case so that a jury may reach a verdict. Aiyana Stanley-Jones represents another Black life taken too soon. Justice must be served.”

I wrote about this for The Nation:

Even if what Weekley claims is true, that his weapon was discharged by accident after a tussling with Aiyana’s grandmother, the entire ordeal could have been avoided if the police acted as police should. If it sounds irrational to require a SWAT team to apprehend one man accused of killing one person, that’s because it is—but it has become standard operating procedure. What happened to Aiyana is the result of the militarization of police in this country, itself a byproduct of the “war on drugs.” Over the course of the past thirty-plus years, police have become more and more reliant on military weaponry and tactics (big and small police forces alike have bazookas, machine guns and mini-tanks for domestic use) in response to crime. They hardly pretend to be interested in information gathering, investigating, protecting and serving any longer.

In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, it’s imperative to be vocal in the demand that black life be valued by the systems charged with enacting justice. And while it’s still true that the justice system in this country is a broken mess, recognition that black life is important has value beyond that.

Sign and share the petition to ensure that what happened to Trayvon and his family doesn’t happen to Aiyana.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, as well as columnist for Feministing.com and Salon. As a freelance writer, social commentator, and mental health advocate his work has been seen online in outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Al Jazeera English, Gawker, The Guardian, Ebony.com, Huffington Post, The Root, and The Grio.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, as well as columnist for Feministing.com and Salon.

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