How to Demand Justice for Elijah McClain
The 23-year-old's death is gaining renewed attention from the Black Lives Matter movement.
Update August 12, 2020: NPR reports that Elijah McClain's family is suing the city of Aurora, Colo., as well as numerous Aurora police officers, a paramedic and the medical director of Aurora Fire Rescue over his death. McClain's family lawyer, Mari Newman, said in a statement that the lawsuit is intended "to demand justice for Elijah McClain, to hold accountable the Aurora officials, police officers, and paramedics responsible for his murder, and to force the City of Aurora to change it longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing."
Update July 30, 2020: CNN reported this week that Colorado's health department has launched an investigation into the use of ketamine in connection with Elijah McClain's death. The Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement Wednesday that it is investigating "numerous complaints" that provided new information "regarding a ketamine administration in August 2019."
Update June 25, 2020: Today, Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, issued an executive order that designated the state's attorney general as prosecutor to "investigate and, if the facts support prosecution, criminally prosecute any individuals whose actions caused the death of Elijah McClain."
Polis tweeted the news, saying that he had spoken with Elijah McClain's mother and that he felt it was necessary to issue his executive order so that justice could be served. In his message, Polis said that this would be the first step in criminally prosecuting the officers involved, if the facts supported it, writing that the order would, "if the facts support prosecution, criminally prosecute any individuals whose actions caused the death of Elijah McClain."
“I was moved by speaking with Elijah’s mother and her description of her son as a responsible and curious child who became a vegetarian to be healthier, and who could inspire the darkest soul," Polis said in a statement. "His friends describe him as a gentle peacemaker who worked as a massage therapist and enjoyed playing the violin. Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern."
Previously: After George Floyd and Breonna Taylor's deaths at the hands of police, widespread protests against police brutality have drawn more attention to the case of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old who died last August after being brutally detained by police.
CBS4 Denver reported that McClain, who was unarmed and had not committed any crime, was walking home with groceries in Aurora, Colorado on Aug. 24 last year while wearing a ski mask (something his family said was not uncommon since he was anemic and often felt cold) when he was approached by three police officers. The Aurora Police Department said a 911 call had reported a "suspicious" person in a mask and said that McClain didn't initially "cooperate" with officers when approached, a claim that McClain's family disputes.
Officers reportedly put McClain into a chokehold known as a carotid hold (which has since been banned) and called the Aurora Fire Department, who administered what they called a "therapeutic" dose of ketamine to subdue McClain. He went into cardiac arrest twice on the way to the hospital and was pronounced brain dead and taken off life support six days later. A coroner's report stated that intense physical exertion and a narrow coronary artery contributed to McClain’s death.
Last year, the district attorney’s office released a letter saying no charges would be filed against the three officers involved in the case (Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema), who have since returned to duty.
"If Aurora thinks this is appropriate policing, the community should be petrified," Mari Newman, an attorney for the McClain family, said at the time. "We are disappointed, but not surprised that once again, members of law enforcement will not (be) held criminally accountable for killing an unarmed Black man."
In the wake of renewed calls for action against racially motivated police brutality, McClain's case has drawn more widespread attention. Here are a few ways to demand justice for him.
Sign a petition.
A Change.org petition has circulated to that demand the officers be taken off duty, and that a more in-depth investigation is held. At the time of writing, it has over 2 million signatures.
Donate to his family.
McClain's mother, Sheneen, has started a GoFundMe, which has reached almost a million dollars at the time of writing.
Call and email Aurora authorities.
Call, email, and tag Aurora officials in social media messages to call for justice for McClain.