Breonna Taylor’s mom defends activist Tamika Mallory following criticisms
Tamika Palmer made it clear that she 'fully supports' Mallory after comments made by the mother of Tamir Rice
The mother of Breonna Taylor issued a statement of public support for activist Tamika Mallory on Monday following criticisms from Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, and others over her work in the broader movement for Black lives.
“The family of Breonna Taylor fully supports and stands with Tamika D Mallory and Until Freedom, just as they have with us,” wrote Tamika Palmer, whose daughter’s death last March sparked a national rallying cry against police brutality and misconduct.
“I don’t understand why we keep having to say this but here it goes again,” Palmer captioned with her post.
Palmer’s message of support comes after Samaria Rice accused Mallory and others — including activist and writer Shaun King, attorneys Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt, and Black Lives Matter Global Network co-founder Patrisse Cullors — of using her son and other victims of police violence for “clout.”
Rice’s ire toward Mallory specifically came after she made an appearance at the 2021 Grammy Awards last week during rapper Lil Baby’s performance of his song “The Bigger Picture,” which reenacted a police shooting of an unarmed Black man. Mallory delivered a passionate poem advocating for racial justice.
“It’s a state of emergency. It’s been a hell of a year. Hell for over 400 years. My people, it’s time we stand. It’s time we demand the freedom that this land promises,” said Mallory.
“President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy, and everything else that freedom encompasses, and to accomplish this, we don’t need allies. We need accomplices. It’s bigger than black and white. This is not a trend, this is our plight. Until freedom.”
The night of the show’s airing, Rice targeted Mallory in a series of Facebook posts, some of which saw her call Mallory out her name. During an interview with Sirius XM’s The Clay Clane Show, Rice would later acknowledge that she didn’t have to use some of her more flagrant choice of words when addressing Mallory.
“I could’ve said it different. Tamika, I didn’t have to call you out your name, but baby girl, you out of pocket. You out your lane,” said Rice.
“I did what I did, I said what I said. Could I have said it in a different way? Yes I could’ve,” she added. “Yes I could have, but at the time, it got me angry. And, here we go once again. Maybe you should have the mothers on the stage with you Tamika as a family. It wouldn’t have looked too obvious.”
Since then, the broader movement for Black lives has appeared divided on the topic of activists, the work they do, including fundraising, and the need to center the families who lost loved ones to police violence.
In a re-post of Tamika Palmer’s Instagram post, Mallory thanked Palmer and also spoke to the growing division within the movement.
“One of the consequences of white supremacy is the division it causes among Black people. Our communities are traumatized by it’s violence physically and emotionally,” Mallory wrote. “Tamika, I appreciate the LOVE we share. As I promised the first day we met, I will never leave your side! If you want to know my heart and what I’ve done, talk to people I actually know, have worked with and on behalf of.”
In a previous interview with theGrio, Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was fatally shot by NYPD officer Richard Haste in 2012 while in the bathroom of his Bronx apartment, also came to the defense of Mallory.
“I have no issues with Tamika,” Malcolm told theGrio. “My son has been dead for nine years and Tamika still keeps in contact … I have nothing bad to say about her. She’s been good to my family.” She added, “If I call her about anything, she picks up.”
Ms. Malcolm said she does, however, understand criticisms of some activists who, in her opinion, “come around just for the cameras … but I never got that from Tamika.” Malcolm said she does understand why Samaria Rice may be frustrated given the loss of her son who was so young, but said her way of addressing her feelings could’ve been handled differently.
Journalist Roland Martin also recently took to Instagram to “stand with” Mallory.
“I stand with @TamikaDMallory 100%. Always have. Always will. I know her heart. I know her commitment. I know her sacrifice. I know her dedication,” said Martin. “God has positioned her for this moment. We need selfless leaders who are committed to liberating Black people. PERIOD.”
Rice has doubled down on her critique of Mallory and others, issuing a scathing joint statement with Lisa Simpson, the mother of Richard Risher, who was killed by LAPD officers in 2017. During her radio interview with Clay Clane, she shut down the possibility of working alongside Mallory.
“It’s no working together because she has created a platform … what are we going to work and do? She already created a platform, and guess what?” said Rice. “My platform was given to me from the death of my son. What type of work are we going to do because I’m not interested in no movie deals and book deals. That comes to me every day. I have to turn away every day. So, tell me, what we going to do?”
Mallory has since publicly addressed Rice’s comments, saying she supports her feelings 100%.
“I support 100% how she feels and what she has stated in terms of her pain in terms of her son,” adding, “I feel like we all have failed her.”
“As a nation, whenever a child, or particularly any person, but particularly when a child is killed,” she said, “this nation should have erupted. The fact that she did not get the proper justice for her son would make anyone angry. So, I totally respect the pain and the trauma that she feels as a mother,” said Mallory.
However, she noted that she and her organization, Until Freedom, have never used Tamir Rice in her campaigns or speeches.
“Ms. Rice has said that she wants me to not speak of her child,” said Mallory. “While I have not been doing it in the past, I will be very, very careful going forward to ensure that I respect her wishes. Even if we feel that we are using all the names in order to make a bigger point, we will be very, very careful not to disrespect her wishes.”
theGrio’s Stephanie Guerilus and Keydra Manns contributed to this report.
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