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Tacoma demands justice for Manny Ellis after wrongful acquittal of killer cops

By Gemini Gnull

Tacoma, WA rally demands justice for Manny Ellis. | Fight Back! News/staff

Tacoma, WA – Chants of “Jail killer cops,” “Black lives matter” and “Justice for Manny” rang through the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma, as over 100 people gathered to protest, grieve and march against the wrongful acquittal of three Tacoma police officers for the murder of Manny Ellis. Among those gathered were Ellis’s sister, mother, extended family, friends and other families of people murdered by the police.

Manuel “Manny” Ellis was murdered by Matthew Collins, Christopher Burbank and Timothy Rankine on March 3, 2020. Several videos and eyewitnesses prove that Ellis did not provoke the police, yet they tasered, choked, hogtied and kneeled on him. While Ellis was suffering this completely unwarranted attack, he pleaded for his life, saying “I can’t breathe, sir.” The murderous cops placed a spit hood over Ellis’s head, and continued to kneel on him until he became unresponsive. He died at the scene.

Yet, on December 21, judge Bryan Chushcoff delivered the verdict of “not guilty” on all charges.

One protester at the rally, Aife Pasquale, described the sham trial saying, “The behavior of the gallery was extremely inappropriate and made everything harder on the family.” They were referring to the many police officers and supporters who reserved excessive numbers of seats to harass and intimidate the Ellis family during the trial. “Only cops would see slaughtering people in the streets as a means of protecting our illusion of freedom.”

Immediately the verdict at 3:30, angry family and community members gathered beneath the large, colorful mural of Manny Ellis in the Black neighborhood of Hilltop. The mural, in large black and blue letters reads “Justice for Manny.” From there, they took to the street to block the nearby intersection while Ellis’s family led chants and gave speeches. More and more people joined the crowd.

As the sun set, people moved back to the mural to grieve and hold a vigil. Hundreds of candles, yellow roses, and photos of others who have been murdered by police were placed under the mural. Community members, often also dressed in yellow, took turns speaking on how they and their family have been harmed by the racist, violent police system. Ellis was wearing a yellow hoodie the night he was killed.

Grief turned again to rage, and the crowd marched through the streets to the nearest Tacoma police precinct, chanting “TPD, KKK, IDF they’re all the same” and “No good cops in a racist system.” These chants highlight how Ellis’s murder is part of a much bigger, global system of violence and oppression. They then held a six-minute moment of silence to represent the six minutes police officers kneeled on Ellis that resulted in his death.

Michael Olagunju, a local community member, described how Ellis’s murder and police violence impacts his family. “My mother is in her 70s, and when she sees a police officer get behind her, she will take any route she can to get them out from behind her. That just gives you a small indication of the type of fear that us, as Black people, feel towards the police.” Olagunju also described how he was a father to two children, a brother, and a son, much like Ellis who was also a father to two children, a brother, and a son.

The crowd marched back from the precinct to the “Justice for Manny” mural where people continued to share, grieve and plan for future events. At around 8:30 p.m. the crowd began to disperse, and Olagunju echoed the sentiments of many at the rally: “The police are the biggest gang in America.”

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