Flash Mob in Cherry Creek Mall Speaks Out to End Police Violence
December 23, 2014
Denver–On Monday, December 22 at 6:30pm over 100 concerned community members burst out in song, surprising the large crowd of mall shoppers. This began a 10 minute flash mob and die-in, in protest of police violence. The singers performed two original songs, one set to the tune of the recent song popularized by the new Hunger Games movie. Onlookers showed support by clapping along with the music and cheering at the end of each song. As the participants laid down to perform the "die-in", Patsy Hathaway stood amidst their bodies and told of her experiences as a mother whose son Alex Landau was beaten nearly to death by Denver police in 2009 during a traffic stop.
Widespread protests in Ferguson MO starting in August of this year have drawn national attention to the problem of police violence. The Denver Police Department has not been immune from such problems and the flash mob put DPD into sharp focus. But though the emphasis of the event was on police misconduct, the singers also took a moment to grieve the tragedy of the recent murders of two New York City policemen. After telling her own story, Hathaway announced, "Please join me for a moment of silence for all people who have been senselessly killed; most recently officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos."
In a 2010 national report by the Cato Institute, Denver had the 2nd highest rate of police misconduct in the country for cities with over 1,000 law enforcement officers. (1) When police misconduct charges were filed, the report revealed that only 19% of charges led to convictions of law enforcement officers, the fourth worst rate in the nation. (2)
"I am here today because I am tired of seeing senseless violence," explained Hathaway. "I don’t want another parent to have to experience what I went through.” As the the closing act of the flashmob, Hathaway led flash mob participants and many onlookers in singing “Amazing Grace”, which she calls “a song about transformation”.
“It’s important to talk about what’s going on locally,” said Kenny Wiley, co-organizer of Coloradans for Justice. “If you watch the videos of abuse perpetrated by members of the DPD and the Sherriff’s department, some of the behavior is truly shocking. We have been moved to act and promote solutions for a more just society."
The flash mob was planned by an ad hoc group of community members as part of the Black Lives Matter movement spreading across the United States in the wake of the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The action brought together choir members, local musicians, poets, mothers, students, clergy, police reform groups, and other concerned community members.
“I am really happy to see how well it went," said flash mob participant Jamie Laurie, better known as Jonny 5 of the alternative hip-hop band Flobots. "It was so encouraging to see how many supporters we had. It felt important for us to raise our voices publicly on this issue. We reject the idea that excessive violence by our own paid public servants is inevitable or acceptable, and we want to start the process of transformation here in Denver,”
"In our case, the three officers responsible for my son's beating received no disciplinary action,” said Hathaway. “How can we know that we are safe? What happened to my son could happen to your child too.”