Updated: Apr 5, 2021
On March 20, activists from across the Tallahassee community gathered in front of City Hall to remember and to honor the life of Mychael Johnson, a Black man murdered by the Tallahassee Police Department one year ago.
The Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) and other community members stood alongside the family of Mychael Johnson in grief and healing.
“Somebody’s hurting my people, and it’s gone on far too long,” sang Trish Brown, outreach coordinator for the Tallahassee Community Action Committee at the angelversary that evening.
Regina Joseph, president of TCAC, and a member of the #Tally19 - a group of activists arrested on September 5, 2020 protesting the non-indictment of police who killed Mychael Johnson, Wilbon Woodard and Tony McDade - asked those gathered to imagine what it must have felt like for Johnson’s family to watch the livestream of their loved one’s death at the same time as the general public. Joseph condemned State Attorney Jack Campbell’s refusal to let the family watch the video before anyone else.
Activists touched on both the emotional weight of the loss of Mychael Johnson as well as the way his death has made blatantly evident the white supremacy in the Tallahassee city government.
Delilah Pierre, vice president of TCAC, pointed to how Johnson’s death was not the result of one officer’s decision, but a product of the larger, corrupt system of white supremacy in which chief of police Lawrence Revel (himself a killer cop), City Manager Reese Goad, Mayor John Dailey and all city commissioners, but especially Dianne Williams-Cox and Curtis Richardson, “are all responsible for what was another needless, senseless death in the Black community.”
Tesia Lisbon, an activist with More Than a Name and a member of the #Tally19, continued this theme, noting, “Not a single city official has properly addressed the family of Mychael Johnson since his death. Not a single city official has properly, or at all, acknowledged or apologized for the way that the family was addressed. Nor has the city shown its ability to take any level of accountability by anyone at any position that we vote for.”
Activists lit candles in Johnson’s memory, and held a moment of silence for him. Brown then sang Something’s Got a Hold on Me.
Timothy White, an activist with TCAC a member of the Tally 19, told the crowd, “We cannot win if we do not get to heal. That is why it is so important that we have a moment like this where we come together and stand together and we recognize that we need to heal.” They continued, “We will continue this fight. And we will heal. And we will finally reach a point where we do not have to fight so hard.”
Pierre closed out the vigil by reminding everyone that “We will not lose.” She said, “What pushes us forward is the love we have shown for each other. And I want you to know that’s not something they can ever steal or take away from us.”
As Pierre said, “Mychael Johnson’s life mattered. He was a human being. He was a kind man. He was a father. He needs to be remembered with love. He needs to be fought for every single day.”