Celebrities and Black Twitter users are demanding justice for a Black teenager who was shot in the head by a white man last week after the student rang the doorbell of the wrong house looking for his brothers.
Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Hudson and others have used their social media platforms to raise awareness of 16-year-old high school junior Ralph Paul Yarl’s situation while also calling for the arrest of the 84-year-old man who shot him. Berry tweeted Sunday night that her heart “completely broke” after she learned of Yarl’s case.
“This innocent child is now fighting for his life,” Berry tweeted. “This could be your child. This should NOT happen.”
Hudson said the situation made her feel “heartbroken.”
“My God !!! Heartbroken for this young man and his family,” Hudson tweeted Sunday. “Praying for his complete recovery !”
Washington asked Twitter users to join in calling for an arrest.
“Instead of waiting around for #LoveIsBlind…make a phone call. For #RalphYarl,” Washington tweeted Sunday. “Demand that Prosecutor Zachary Thompson make an arrest and bring the appropriate charges.”
The conversation on social media follows months of demands from Black people speaking out on behalf of Shanquella Robinson, 25, who died while vacationing in Mexico late last year. Posts about Robinson’s death went viral on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and a fundraiser for the family has brought in more than $363,000.
Yarl was shot Thursday as he was trying to pick up his brothers. Police said Yarl mistakenly went to a home in the 1100 block of Northeast 115th Street instead of Northeast 115th Terrace in Kansas City, Missouri. Yarl’s family has retained civil rights lawyers Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, who said in a statement that Yarl was shot in the head and in the arm. He was released from the hospital Saturday and is recovering at home, the attorneys said.
Andrew Lester was charged Monday with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, Clay County prosecutors said. In addition to social media outcry, protests with Yarl’s family and community members have already taken place.
Crump and other civil rights leaders — including Shaun King, whose post was shared on Kelly Rowland’s Instagram page — also called for justice on social media. Viola Davis posted about Yarl on her Instagram page, writing in the caption “ALL HANDS ON DECK!!”
Aside from celebrities, many Twitter users have brought awareness to the case, particularly by sharing videos by Faith Spoonmore, Yarl’s aunt, recounting what happened to her nephew. Users have also shared Spoonmore’s GoFundMe page, which has raised over $2.7 million for Yarl’s medical expenses.