New Yorkers united behind the story of Timothy Caughman — an avid fan of actress Shari Headley, autograph collector and avowed environmentalist — who was murdered late Monday by an individual who came to the city with an intention to kill as many black men as possible.
Marchers met at Union Square in New York City on Friday to memorialize Caughman, 66, and denounce the acts of white supremacist James Harris Jackson, the 28-year-old veteran who stabbed him with a 2-foot sword, in the NYC Resists Hate Crimes event.
Working Families Party Membership Director Nelini Stamp helped organize Friday night’s rally. The self-described activist said she was frustrated by the lack of reporting around Caughman’s death. This event was her attempt at spreading the word.
“I heard about it from a tweet by Mindy Kaling and celebrities, not from news outlets,” she said. “I instantly thought what happened? I needed to get to the bottom of it.”
Stamp quickly compared Jackson to Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who traveled to New York from Baltimore and killed two police officers in Dec. 2014.
Media outlets referred to Brinsley as a terrorist, Stamp said, and Jackson should be treated similarly. This demonstration was a means to get that message out.
“People didn’t call him a terrorist — they’re calling him a white supremacist,” she explained. “My fear is this becoming normalized. We organized to not normalize it.”
Other organizers discussed Caughman’s death with the crowd that gathered at the square. Among the key activists were Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez — two of the Jan. 21 Women’s March leaders.
“White supremacy is not exclusive to Donald Trump,” Sarsour said via a megaphone. “We have black people being killed in our country every day.”
She went on to discuss the number of missing Black and Latina individuals in Washington, D.C. Metro Police have shared 20 missing person fliers on Twitter since March 19 — half of them juveniles.
“They want you to be distracted,” Sarsour added. “Sisters and brothers: wake up.”
As the demonstration began to swirl, Miguel Martinez, 17, stood on the steps of Union Square with a “Free Hugs” sign — inviting attendees to take advantage of a comforting squeeze.
“It disgusted me that [Jackson] came all this way to kill black men,” Martinez said, whose role seemed to provide the antithesis. “It shows the disdain he has for that group of people.”
Martinez wasn’t the only teenager in the crowd, as NYC Resists Hate Crimes featured a diverse group of varying ages.
Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice Student Nupol Kiazolu, 17, has been a social activist for a few years now and said attending such demonstrations was her responsibility.
“I have five brothers,” Kiazolu said. “I know they are at risk, and I am at risk, every time we go outside. That is why I am dedicating my life to this.”
As marchers began the journey from Union Square to Midtown Manhattan — a 20-block walk guided by cooperative NYPD officers — Stamp took the lead and helped start chants of “Black lives, they matter here” and “All lives will matter when black lives do.”
The peaceful demonstration went uninterrupted despite a brief meeting with an aggravated Donald Trump supporter who stood with his chest puffed, arms at his sides, yelling “Get out of my country!” as attendees walked by. The NYPD quickly removed him, responding to calls from attendees.
The three-hour march ended in Midtown with a prayer from a female member in the crowd followed by a recitation of the Jewish prayer, “Mourner’s Kaddish.”
As Stamp walked away from the large crowd, she raised her megaphone one final time to say once more, “Black lives they matter here.”
The crowd recited the chant in agreement.