Abundantly clear after this week’s public memorial for Alvin Motley Jr. in Memphis is that a lot of people supporting his family want what they consider a damning video of his fatal shooting released to the public.
Motley, who was visiting here from Chicago, was killed by unlicensed security guard Gregory Livingston on Aug. 7. Some in his family have seen the video. They spoke of it Thursday during the memorial held at Mt. Olive CME Church, 538 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Ave., where the Rev. Peris J. Lester I is the pastor.
“We knew we were coming to this service, but we had no idea we were going to watch the video of Boo’s murder,” said Carl Adams, Motley’s cousin. “It was just shocking. The security guard kept coming over to the car saying some things, and he (Motley) kept getting back out of the car to talk with him. And the security guard kept coming over there. And that last time he (Motley) got out of the car, he had a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other.
“The guy just pulled out his gun and shot him,” Adams said. “The bullet hit his wrist and went into his chest. My cousin just laid there on the ground, and that security guard offered him no aid. He is trained in CPR, and he just walked off like it was nothing. That guard was walking around there, and my cousin was on the ground dying. It was hard to actually see that.”
Adams’ daughter, Cara Adams, said the video “should be released because that man just shot my cousin like he wasn’t even human. … It’s like they don’t even see Black people as being people, and it’s important for my generation to really understand that.
“To see him shot down on a video made it more real. I was shocked,” she said. “It was graphic. When you see the video, you can see right there before your eyes what happened. I mean, it’s right there.”
The family’s legal representative, national civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, said special prosecutor Glenn Funk, Nashville’s district attorney general, made the decision to show Motley’s family the video just before the memorial service.
Crump is pushing hard for the video’s public release. And even as he does so, Crump knows that the pursuit of justice in the Motley case will not be assured by its existence nor by its presentation to a jury.
“A lot of family members are still praying, who know all too well that we can’t take nothing for granted,” Crump said.
“That’s why we are here declaring that we want justice for Alvin Motley Jr. and his family. But we are seeking transformative justice for America.”
Justice as Crump, Motley’s family and supporters see it would mean that Livingston, who is being held in the Shelby County Jail on a $1.8 million bond, would be found guilty of his second-degree murder charge and sentenced accordingly.
Transformative justice – a term that has been gaining traction in the U.S. amid the numbing number of unarmed African Americans killed by law enforcement officers – seeks a broader and deeper outcome. And while there are varying usages of the term, a consistent element involves getting at the root of such killings and affecting cultural-level change.
“Well, the transformative justice we seek says there will not be a third Black man in America killed for playing hip-hop music,” Trump told the memorial crowd. It was a reference, in part, to the assertion that Livingston killed Motley at the Kroger Fuel Center at 6660 Poplar Ave. during an encounter over loud music coming from a car in which Motley was a passenger.
The backdrop also includes that last year a Black teen was killed in Oregon by a man over a loud music dispute, according to police. And in 2014, a life sentence was given to a Florida man for killing a 17 year old, who was listening to rap with other teenagers.
“What is it about Black men playing hip-hop music that white men find so offensive, to the point that they would shoot and kill them?” Crump asked.
Leslie Ballin, the attorney for Livingston, already has shown part of the defense team’s strategy. They are challenging the loud-music factor.
Meanwhile, Motley’s family is contending with wounds that “are still fresh,” said Crump. “And the wounds were even ripped a little deeper earlier this morning when the family got to see the video of how Alvin Motley Jr. was murdered unnecessarily and unjustifiably and unconstitutionally.”
During a public memorial (Aug. 18) for Motley in Hillside, Illinois, Crump delivered a call to action regarding the killing of Motley. The Rev. Al Sharpton, president/founder of the National Action Network (NAN), delivered the eulogy.
At the Memphis memorial, Crump said he had talked more about the case that morning with Sharpton and Martin Luther King III as they prepared for the Saturday (Aug. 28) commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington, which is being embraced as part of the ongoing national fight over voting access.
“We were talking about Alvin Motley … and they said, ‘We’re going to march on Washington, and if things don’t move where we get this video released, we going to come there and march in Memphis for Alvin Motley Jr.,’” Crump said.
Livingston is due back in court on Sept. 28. At that time, Shelby County General Sessions Court Judge Louis Montesi Jr. likely will hear more from the defense team regarding a request to block the public release of videos linked to the killing.
There are two known videos from private citizens and footage from the security camera at the Kroger fueling center.
“Say no mo’, just release the video,” Motley family supporters – led by Crump – chanted at the Memphis memorial.
Memphis Branch NAACP President Van Turner Jr., who also is an attorney, vowed to work with Crump to get justice for Motley and his family.
“Alvin Motley Jr. is the name we’re going to remember,” said Turner. “We’re going to say his name today, and we’re going to continue to say his name, especially on Sept. 28, when we have to be back down here for court.
“And we’re going to ask that judge to release that video. And we’re going to continue to say his name, even after Sept. 28, until we get justice for Alvin Motley Jr.”
Children, said Turner, should be hugged every night because “we just don’t know what’s going to happen. …
“Why do we have to tell our young, Black men … don’t move, be quiet, sit down, shut-up, be safe, don’t do anything, kowtow, kowtow, bow your head like we are slaves when there is a White man with a gun, standing in front of us?”
In closing, Crump asked the Memphis crowd to join with activists elsewhere in the country by going to a Kroger Store and playing music in support of Motley.
Many took that to heart, gathering later at the Kroger fuel center where Livingston killed Motley.