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  • Stacey Delikat

Powerful Interview: Kadiatou Diallo

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It has been two weeks since a Staten Island grand jury declined to criminally charge NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. The video of Pantaleo placing Garner in an apparent chokehold and wrestling him to the ground with the assistance of other officers has been seen around the world and has sparked mass outrage. For Kadiatou Diallo, the video is too painful to watch.

She can relate to Eric Garner's family. Her son, Amadou Diallo, was the victim of one of the most infamous police shootings New York City has ever seen. In 1999 Diallo, 23 and an immigrant from Guinea, was killed in a hail of police gunfire. Forty-one shots were fired. He had committed no crime. Instead, police later said that he resembled a rape suspect they were looking for, and believed he was reaching for a gun when in fact he was just getting his wallet.

Fifteen years later Kadiatou Diallo is still grieving, but she says she has channelled that grief into action. She formed the Amadou Diallo Foundation to foster police-community relations and promote racial healing. But when I interviewed her last week she said the cases dominating our headlines about Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice are a major setback to her cause.

She told me she is still waiting for justice for her son. To her, it will be when no other families go through what she did. But she is encouraged by the scope of the anger and frustration that has risen up in the past couple of months. She believes this time, maybe, hopefully, there will be change.

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