Crime & Justice

Kendrec McDade rally held at Pasadena City Hall; family, attorney speak

Demonstrators hold signs of other victims of police violence in the L.A. area.
Demonstrators hold signs of other victims of police violence in the L.A. area.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

Demonstrators rallied outside Pasadena City Hall Tuesday evening. They said that they're calling for justice for Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot and killed by a neighborhood watchmen and showing support for the family of 19-year old Kendrec McDade.The family is suing the city and its police department for alleged civil rights violations and wrongful death.

"Even though we laid your son to rest this past Saturday, we will not walk away," said Martin Gordon, the rally's organizer. "We are not going to leave you."

Pasadena police shot and killed McDade on March 24 when a 911 caller lied about being robbed at gunpoint. Police, who believed McDade was armed, say McDade reached for his waistband as he approached the patrol car. That's when a series of shots were fired, although its unclear how many.

More than 60 people gathered to listen to community leaders, members of the NAACP, and the family of Kendrec McDade speak. During the demonstration, McDade's mother held a picture of Kendrec McDade and fought back tears as the teen’s father, Kenneth McDade, said the police department needed to be held accountable.

“As long as we don’t do nothing about it and just let them get away with it, it’s going to keep on happening over and over," said Kenneth McDade.

The father, Kenneth McDade, said it's been difficult explaining to his other children what has happened. He said they are now afraid of the police.

A coalition of Pasadena organizations hosted and attended the event. They held signs proclaiming the names of other men who have been killed by police, including the dates each died and their manner of death. The crowd lit white candles in memory of Kendrec McDade and Trayvon Martin as they bowed their heads for a moment of silence.

Pasadena resident Mary Bell said she attended the rally because she is concerned about the reasoning Pasadena police gave for shooting McDade. She said the waistband story seems to be a reoccurring theme.

"To me, that's getting to be an old hat," Bell said. "One gets away with that story and then another one comes along and uses it."

Three independent investigations, including one with the FBI, have been launched. Caree Harper, the attorney representing the family of McDade, said she wants the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

“There is a cover up amongst us," she shouted to the crowd, "and we need to get to the bottom of it because until we get to the bottom of it, it’s going to keep coming. And tomorrow it might be your son."

Some community members are reportedly to attend a closed-door meeting with Pasadena police on Wednesday. Several closed-door meetings with select community activists have already taken place, and there's been at least one large public meeting at a Pasadena church.

This story has been updated.