Funeral procession for Jor’Dell Richardson ends in march for justice
Aurora, CO – On June 16, the family of Jor’Dell Da’Shawn Richardson laid their child to rest with an outpouring of community support. Meeting at the Aurora Municipal Center, the body of Jor’Dell Richardson was brought in its hearse to the complex containing both City Hall and Police Department Headquarters. The family was surrounded by members of the community in the pouring rain.
14-year-old Black boy killed by Aurora PD
Jor’Dell Da’Shawn Richardson was 14 years old when he was killed by police in the alleyway behind a vape shop on the corner of 8th Avenue and Dayton Street in Aurora. He and a few other Black teen boys were seen outside the vape shop in hoodies and COVID masks. As the two officers pulled up to the vape shop, Officer Roch Gruszeczka can be heard saying in the recording, “They just shoplifted out of there. I’m going to light them up.”
Richardson was chased down by Officers Gruszeczka and James Snapp on suspicion of having robbed the store and was eventually tackled to the ground. Richardson said, “Stop, please! You got me, you got me!” While Richardson was subdued on the ground, the officers started yelling that there was a gun. At least one of Richardson’s hands was pinned to the ground. Then Gruszeczka shot Richardson once in the abdomen, yelling obscenities like “I’m gonna shoot your ass!” Both body cam recordings can be found on YouTube.
Family memorializes Jor’Dell Richardson
Surrounded by love and support from about 400 rain-soaked people, the family of Jor’Dell Richardson expressed their grief and love for their child lost to police brutality. Many folks wore baby blue clothes with pictures of Richardson containing the slogan “Forever 14.”
“It's hard for me. I have to look at pictures, watch old videos to remember my son,” said Laurie Littlejohn in her eulogy. “I won’t get to see him graduate high school, go to prom, start his own family, because a police officer took him from me.” She criticized Officers Gruszeczka and Snapp for escalating their encounter with her son. “Instead of having a heart and being a human, realizing their mistakes, they want to put it all off on my son. He’s not here to speak up for himself, so I’m gonna do it.”
Jameco Richardson, Jor’Dell’s father, spoke next. He thanked the community for their love and support and echoed Laurie’s words. “We can’t give up because there’s so many more lives out there we need to fight to save.”
At a march held last week Jameco Richardson called for Chief Art Acevedo’s resignation. This demand was reflected in signs carried by demonstrators, along with calls to “Jail all killer cops!”
Those assembled also heard from Anton Richareson, Jor’Dell’s 19-year-old brother. He remembers his younger sibling as a bright young boy. “I don’t care what my brother did; that didn’t give you the right to shoot him at all. He was such a beautiful soul. All he wanted to do was play basketball, finish school and make my mom proud.”
Family, community once again march for accountability
As speeches ended, the event transitioned to a processional march led by the hearse. People chanted “Black lives matter!” “Say his name: Jor’Dell Richardson!” and “Forever 14!” as they marched up and down Alameda Avenue.
Not even the heaviest gusts of rain deterred the family or their supporters from completing their march. The processional was so powerful, the march was able to delay not only traffic, but a northbound light rail train on their way back to the Aurora Municipal Center.
As the family and hearse peeled off to gather in fellowship in a private event, activists kept on marching down the street. As demonstrators turned down Chambers Street to finish their event where it began, APD officers blocking traffic got physical with one of the organizers.
Two officers were harassing him and wrestled his bicycle out of his hands and threw it to the ground. As other protest marshals came nearer, the cops complained that one lane of traffic could be opened. But the organizers backed up the marshal’s position, keeping him safe from police and managing to keep traffic blocked, ultimately keeping marchers safe. Even after weeks of criticism from the community, APD continues to be a violent, repressive occupying force.
The event was organized by a coalition of groups, including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Denver DSA, Denver-Aurora Community Action Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, Stand Up for Racial Justice, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Activists will keep on working with the family to continue the struggle for police accountability in Aurora, Colorado. The national struggle for community control of the police continues.
The Richardson family is asking for donations for the costs of Jor’Dell’s funeral. You can donate and send messages of support and solidarity to https://tinyurl.com/justice4jordell.