Mother Of Ramarley Graham: I Will Always Continue To Fight

Interview with Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, who was killed by cops.

Ramarley Graham was only 18 years old when he was gunned down by Richard Haste, an officer of the NYPD Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit. In the aftermath of the tragic event, a lot of stories were published about Ramarley, painting him as a teenager involved in narcotics trade and illegally possessing a gun. However, video footage later proved all this to be false. Ramarley had been walking peacefully from his friend’s house when he was followed by cops to his home where they gunned him down. Such a tragic loss of life would leave every family devastated.

We spoke to Constance Malcolm, Ramarley’s mum about how the family has been coping since the loss of her son. She also talked about what she has been doing to obtain justice for her son and cautions us to scrutinize every information we read especially concerning police brutality. This is to protect against lies which are propagated by the mainstream media after such tragic events occur.

The parents of Ramarley Graham, Constance Malcolm, left, and Frank Graham, right, with their lawyer, Royce Russell. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times
We’re very sorry for what happened to Ramarley and we’d like to express our deepest condolences to you and your family. 
Constance Malcolm
Thank you.
What happened was a terrible tragedy. I’d like to know, considering the fact that it happened in front of his grandma and his brother, how did they feel after the shooting.
Constance Malcolm
Well, their lives will never be the same. Everything changes and nothing will ever be the same, because as they were kids, I used to tell the youngest one that these are the people that you have to look up to, to help you if you ever get into trouble. And to see and witness one of them actually murder his brother right in front of him, what can I tell him? My mum is not from this country. She came here for a better life, not knowing this would happen to her. You hear about this country and you come here for a better life, and then this happens to you.
With the NYPD, when stuff like this happens, they normally don’t want to release footage of the incident or they don’t do an investigation? And when they do, sometimes it takes too long. Did you face any of these issues?
Constance Malcolm
Well, regarding the footage, what they did is, they released a footage of somebody running and said it was my son, which it never was. But the problem with that is, we had our own footage from the house. There were cameras on the house, so this is how a lot of stuff came out. Everything that was put in the media wasn’t true. They said it was a drug bust gone wrong, he was selling drugs, he was a suspect, there was a hot pursuit, and all these other stuff. But then there are three videos that show it wasn’t true.
It took more than one year for the NYPD to decide to settle this with you and your family.
Constance Malcolm
Yeah, what happened is, it took them about four months. Originally the cop was indicted and was charged with manslaughter one and two. We were going to court for like a year, and then they threw out the case on a technicality. Then they gave us the option to go back to the grand jury or appeal. We chose not to appeal because appeals take too long and people forget, so we chose to go back to the grand jury but the second grand jury didn’t indict him.
And would you say the settlement was justice or are you planning to continue fighting?
Constance Malcolm
The settlement is no justice. Money can’t bring my son back. And the lifetime of pain that this city has caused me, there’s no money that can fix that. I will always continue to fight no matter what the outcome is, because I’m still fighting for these cops to be fired. Even after that I will still continue to fight. Because there’s just too much going on, and as you can see, nothing was fair about what they did to my son.
What are the plans you have for seeking justice? Do you plan to take the case to a higher court?
Constance Malcolm
There’s no higher court right now. What I plan to do is to get the officer fired. They are doing a department trial starting this month, so that’s where I’m at right now with fighting for justice. Not Richard Haste only – he fired the bullet that killed my son – but there are over twelve officers that helped to cover it up so I’m trying to get all of them fired.
That’s interesting. Was there a cover-up as well?
Constance Malcolm
Yes, I have a video out right now that will give you the facts and show what went on and what they did after my son got shot.
You’ve been involved in the Black rights movement for the past several years. Will you still continue to fight for justice for other Black boys and girls who are being killed by cops?
Constance Malcolm
Of course, because they are my sons. I might not have given birth to them but they are my sons and I will always continue to fight, because our Black and brown boys are being killed unjustifiably everyday. In this last month how many Black boys have been killed unjustly, and no cops have been held accountable? They either go on to get a pay raise or they go on to get promotion.
Can you please tell us about the most difficult moments that you’ve faced in the past three years in your fight against the NYPD to prove that they are wrong and are guilty of murdering your son?
Constance Malcolm
The video speaks. Like I said, they put out a video showing somebody running and said it was my son. And while we have videos that show the person that’s running is not my son, after almost five years, nobody has corrected that. So even now, four and half years later, people still say, “the boy that was running,” or “he was suspected of selling drugs,” and it was never so. They say they saw the butt of a gun, which we know wasn’t true. There was never any gun and there will not be a gun because there’s no gun to see or to find.
What about your lawyers? Recently we had an interview with Bianca Parker, whose husband was killed by cops. And when she tried to file a lawsuit, what the lawyers told her was, “if you want to fight this, you’re going to lose all your property because you are most likely going to lose, and the cop won’t get indicted. But someone will need to get paid anyway.” They discouraged the lady from pursuing charges. Did you face any issues like this?
Constance Malcolm
No, I never had any issues. With me, my lawyer works for me, not the other way round. A lot of people don’t understand and some of these lawyers really have to fight, that’s the problem. You have to make them fight for you. And when you go to one lawyer and he tells you something, you have to get a second opinion, because maybe that one is not willing to fight but there’s another one that is willing to go for it.
Some people turn a blind eye to the problem of stop and frisk and racial profiling of Black people by cops. They go on to claim that Black people are the problem. But there’s also a group of people who can confirm the fact that Black people are being criminalized and cops are killing them because of that. What do you think about this?
Constance Malcolm
A lot of people probably didn’t believe it, but now it’s so prevalent. The cellphones are showing everything now. You have police choking a man on camera and he’s saying he can’t breathe, but Daniel Panteleo was laughing and thinking it was funny. If it wasn’t for everybody taking out their phones when they see something and videotaping it, a lot of white people wouldn’t believe it, because they were so in denial. But when they had Occupy Wall Street and they were getting their butts kicked down there, they see what the police could really do. Now they understand what Blacks are really going through. And they have no choice but to come together with Black people and fight.
Do you plan to organize any rallies or marches to fight for justice and to get people to support you?
Constance Malcolm
I’ve always been fighting and I’ve always had people supporting me. I’ve been doing rallies for the last four and a half years and my support has been awesome. After four and half years, I’m surprised that I still have a large following of people that support me when I do stuff.
Do you have anything special you’d like to say to our readers?
Constance Malcolm
I want to say, a lot of times, you shouldn’t listen to what the media says because sometimes what the police do is, they put out a story to demonize the person as if they’re a bad person when they’re not. And because the police put up their story first, by the time the real story gets out, people already have it embedded in their mind that the person did something wrong. So sometimes people have to look into things. Because when it comes to Black and brown people, the media tends to always want to put out that persons record or what the person was doing, when it has nothing to do with why the police killed them. At the time the person got killed, they weren’t doing anything wrong, so they shouldn’t be demonizing the person like that.

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