Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

Shem Walker

Jul 24, 2009

It was a quiet Saturday evening in Brooklyn when Shem Walker visited his mother’s home in Clinton Hill. The 49-year-old father of two routinely checked on her, enjoyed the company of his tight-knit family and ensured their safety. Working diligently to keep drug dealers and other dangerous members of society away from his loved ones, Shem found himself having to shoo away pushers right in front of his own mother’s house.

Protecting his family and keeping their brownstone secure when police failed to do so, he would risk his own life just to tell a potentially treacherous individual to leave the premises. July 11 was no different; except that this time Shem was killed on his mother’s stoop by one of these criminals that turned out instead to be one of NYPD’s finest.

Shem had just finished cooking dinner with his family and stepped out to buy something from the store when he was shot to death. The undercover cop, involved in a buy and bust operation, refused to leave the stoop and the rest remains a mystery except for the undeniable fact that Shem was hit by a bullet in the chest.

I see it time and time again. The devastated families, powerless mothers, fathers and children, and a systematic disregard for the value of human life. From Timothy Stansbury to Amadou Diallo to Sean Bell and countless others, the NYPD’s procedure remains shoot first, ask questions later. Whether it’s a wallet, alleged threats, or for no reason at all, the police department feels it has the right to shoot and kill anyone and then justify it for the most baseless reasons.

Shem wasn’t a would-be thug. He wasn’t a young man dressed in ‘dangerous baggy clothes’. He wasn’t breaking traffic laws nor committing any of the other ridiculous excuses utilized by the police in shooting cases. No, Shem was simply at his mother’s home, taking care of his family. His death is not only untimely and horrific, it speaks to the larger issue of police accountability, and we demand an independent investigation into the incident.

Last week, members of Walker’s family were gathered outside the Clinton Hill home when cops began asking for their IDs and calling for backup. Both uniformed and undercover police convened on the area shoving and waving their batons. The Walker family caught six minutes of this harassment and intimidation tactic on their cell phone, and this footage is now in the hands of the Brooklyn DA. Instead of properly investigating Shem’s death, police are busy re-victimizing the victims.

At a time of record high stops and frisks in NY, immeasurable senseless arrests, beatings and killings, the NYPD needs to be working on its community relations – not blaming the victims of its questionable actions. Shem was killed in cold blood and now some are trying to tarnish this hard working Army veteran’s image. We demand an immediate explanation into this most latest atrocity. As I always emphatically say, justice delayed is justice denied. Let us not further demonize the Walker family waiting for answers, support and closure.