Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.

10-29-06

The Twentieth Anniversary of the Death of Michael Griffith

They were all present last night, October 18, 2006, at the historic House of the Lord Church. There were the courtroom combatants led by D. A. Charles Hynes for the people and Stephen Sullivan for the defense. There were the activists: Council member Charles Barron, Elombe Brath and Ron Daniels. There were the elected officials: Council members John Lieu, Tish James. There were the reporters from TV 9, 1, 4, 2 and Herb Boyd. Of course, there was the family: Mrs. Griffith, the mother of Michael, his brothers Chris and Tony (who is nearing retirement from the army), sisters, Odetta and her husband Raymond and Brenda and Chris’ two sons, Noah and Shamari. As always, they exhibited extraordinary strength and courage. During interviews with the media and in her statement Mrs. Griffith tried to be so strong and determined. She faltered and wavered in her interviews and speech, nevertheless, she struggled through until the end. In fact, after her speech she had to be carried back to her seat, still, she stayed until the end of the program.

Chris was all over the Church. He was organizing, giving information, doing interviews and explaining; he was involved in everything from the kitchen to the sanctuary. He had put the program together and now he was implementing it. There were poems and music from the steel band and drums. There were statements sent from various persons, Senator Hillary Clinton, Borough President Marty Markowitz and actor Danny Glover. The sanctuary was filled to its capacity as people expressed their love and support to the family. Downstairs refreshments were served. People started arriving at 6:30 p.m. and stayed until after 11:00 p.m.

I shared with the audience some of my reflections. I remembered when we heard the news, I asked Charles Barron, who was my chief of staff, to visit the family. Rev. Al Sharpton had been there and called for a motorcade to Howard Beach. Charles Barron and I joined him, which was the first action around the Howard Beach killing. I remembered the unity. The activists, elected officials, clergy were all united in their anger and determination to act. There were series of demonstrations and then the trial.
It fell my lot to sustained Black presence at the trial. D. A. Hynes on numerous occasions expressed appreciation for my succeeding in having Black people in the courtroom. I remember the strategy we developed of non-cooperation with the local D. A. We didn’t trust them. We demanded a special prosecutor. We met with Governor Cuomo who appointed Charles Hynes. I especially remember, “The Day of Outrage.” We decided that the death of Michael Griffith demanded a dramatic response. The idea of massive demonstrations in different parts of Brooklyn was conceived. Early in the day, we had decided on an act of civil disobedience. That evening as the demonstrations were happening some of us went down into the subway and jumped on the tracks, thus tying up the city of New York.

It is worth noting that it was not until the killing of Amadou Diallo that we were able to duplicate the unity that we experienced during the Michael Griffith’s death. Speakers alluded to the recent killing of Michael Sandy. Similar to Michael Griffith he was chased to his death by whites.

Also, it was remembered that about a year ago a young Black man was beaten in Howard Beach. The hope that things were getting better was exploded by these incidents. Each generation seems to bring its own hatred, violence and bigotry. I concluded on a note of hope and challenge that we must believe that things can be better and everybody should put forth maximum effort to make a better world.

Prayer Vigil – October 29, 2006 ~ 2:30 p. m. at the United Nations
Clergy and Choir are ask to assemble @ The Church of the Covenant
310 East 42nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue
@1:30 p.m. for robing.
Meetings for planning the UN Vigil will be held at
The House of the Lord Church
every Thursday from 12-2 p. m.
For more information call the Church at 718-596-1991