By Chinta Strausberg
In a move to ensure transparency and integrity, Rainbow PUSH Coalition National Field Director Bishop Tavis Grant and Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. called on Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to take the lead in investigating the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette by a Waukegan police officer, who has since been fired.
After viewing two videos with Stinnette’s family, Rev. Jackson said he found them “purely unnecessary and unprovoked” just before a press conference held outside of Waukegan’s City Hall on Wednesday. Jackson went on to say that Stinnette and his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, 20, who is the mother of Stinnette’s son, were shot “driving while Black.”
Both Grant and Jackson said Stinnette was no threat to the Hispanic officer, who claimed he fired after Stinnette’s car started rolling backwards towards him. “He was handicapped,” stated Rev. Jackson, “and he had a walker in the back seat of the car.” Stinnette had been injured in a car accident earlier and was unable to raise his hands or get out of the car on his own.
Rev. Jackson said the police-related fatal shootings of Black unarmed men “must stop” and there is a global pattern of these shootings, not just in America, but in France and Germany. He wants the United Nations to investigate these shootings. “The whole world must know about it. We have an obligation to tell it.”
Bishop Grant said the videos “were overwhelming. It drives the emotions, touches the nerves of your heart, your mind and your spirit to see such a young life taken, and the lady so brutalized by the shots her body endured.
“It brings to light the real, raw emotions that connect to these families in their loss, their pain and their grief, and the impact it has on the community at-large,” Bishop Grant said.
“People who see this video will know up close and personal the deep-seated violence that happens in these actions and impacts. It’s like a cancer. We must continue to fight and stand strong, and in the end, we will win and turn our pain into power.”
Rev. Jackson and Bishop Grant were joined by the parents and several members of Marcellis Stinnette’s family at the Waukegan City Hall offices of Mayor Sam Cunningham, who has vowed to release all of the videos beginning with 17 FOI requests from the media.
At City Hall, Bishop Grant and Rev. Jackson met with Mayor Cunningham, Attorney Kevin O’Connor, Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles, and Attorney Rick Hammond. The mayor vowed to fully cooperate with the two civil rights activists “for the sake of transparency and my honor.”