By Dontay Stevenson
On Saturday, May 8, activists with Charlotte Uprising and Jennings’s family members held a rally in honor of Frankie “Pop” Jennings, an unarmed 32-year-old Black man murdered by US Marshals on March 24.
The rally was held at Freedom Park in south Charlotte. A banner reading, “Justice for Frankie Jennings” was displayed, along with other signs reading, “Frankie was murdered on his birthday” and “U.S. Marshals murdered Frankie Jennings.”
Speakers at the event emphasized Jennings’s positive impact on his family and community. An activist with Charlotte Uprising also connected Jennings’s death to the dozens of police murders that occurred in the month following his murder, including that of Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man murdered by sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, “We’re talking about Black men’s legacies being taken off this earth,” the speaker said.
One of Jennings’s family members, Lashawn Jennings, spoke about receiving little in the way of answers following Frankie’s murder: “U.S. Marshals need to take blame. They are like outlaws: they do what they want, they shoot first, and ask no questions and answer no questions,” she said. “I don’t understand how they can just take a life, don’t have a care about it, and just go about their day like nothing happened.”
The day of Frankie’s murder, activists who had arrived at the gas station had to communicate the location of Frankie’s body to his family, rather than the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) and US Marshals, who instead harassed family members who came to the scene. Jennings’s sister, Tanua Wallace, told Tribune, “U.S. Marshals are allowed to do anything without consequences.”
Another speaker denounced the narrative of ruling-class media about Frankie’s death, emphasizing that the truth was on the side of the people. The speaker expressed the correctness of rebelling against capitalism and police violence, highlighting the fact that the May Uprisings in response to the murder of George Floyd were what scared the ruling class into arresting and convicting Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin.
On May 6, CMPD handed over their investigation of Frankie Jennings’s murder to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s (DA) office. Wallace told Tribune that her family has seen the surveillance footage of Frankie’s murder, but the DA has not yet released the footage publicly, aiding the US Marshals’ narrative, knowing that the video’s release will only stoke the people’s outrage further.
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