Boyd, 22, was killed by a Chicago officer in 2012, and Jones, 55, was killed in 2015. Al Jazeera’s 25-minute film, “The Lives of Black Women,” explores their deaths through interviews with both women’s families.
“They don’t talk about women that much when they get killed by the police,” said Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton. “They barely talk about women. Why is that? It’s crazy, because you see that even in death, women play the second role.”
As of October, 10 black women have been killed by police this year, according to a tracker from The Guardian. The film mentions that, on average, police kill one black woman every month.
They don’t talk about women that much when they get killed by the police. They barely talk about women. Why is that? It’s crazy, because you see that even in death, women play the second role. Martinez Sutton, Rekia Boyd's brother
If there’s a relative lack of publicity about their deaths, there’s also the issue of impunity: In both Boyd and Jones’ cases, the officers who shot them weren’t punished. Dante Servin, the off-duty officer who killed Boyd, was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2015 because the judge thought he should be facing more severe charges. Robert Rialmo, who killed Jones, was not charged with any wrongdoing.
“People don’t care about black women. They just don’t,” said Page May, a teacher and organizer with the grassroots organization Assata’s Daughters, in a scene from the film. “We’re in the way, in the case of Rekia Boyd. We’re angry black women. Or we’re just too angry and too black and too womanly in the case of Sandra Bland. We’re either too ‘X’ or we’re invisible.”
Servin, the officer who shot Boyd, explained in the film that he believes police need to have a certain mindset to be effective at their jobs.
“As police, you have to have a hunter mentality ― in that you have to to be out there, you have to be the predator, you have to hunt crime,” Servin said. “You have to think like a predator to catch the predators. To be a good policeman, you have to think like that.”
But a hunter or warrior mentality ― which trains officers to survive a situation by any means necessary ― is dangerous, often leading to more violence against members of the community. Paul O’Neal, 18, was unarmed when a Chicago police officer shot and killed him after he crashed a stolen car in August. Rialmo, the officer who killed Jones, also shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier, 19, after the teen allegedly swung a baseball bat at him.
In 2013, in what is perhaps the most infamous recent case of police brutality in Chicago, former police officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.
This is one reason Sutton continues to fight ― something he had to explain to a police officer at a protest, he said.
When the officer asked him why was he still fighting, Sutton replied, “Wouldn’t you? If someone came and took away your sister, your wife or your son or daughter ― would you just stop fighting? Would you stop talking? Would you turn away from the world?”