Black Women Matter: Rally calls for justice after death of Charleena Lyles

KING 5's Heather Graf reports.

Four days after two Seattle Police officers shot and killed Charleena Lyles, a Black Lives Matter rally took place in downtown Seattle.  But this time, the focus was on black women.

Organizers say it was no coincidence that only women spoke at the Black Women Matter event.  It was planned that way, on purpose.

"Charleena Lyles' life mattered!  Black women's lives matter," one woman told the crowd.  "We're standing here saying enough is enough."

Also present for the rally were several of Charleena Lyles'  family members.  Her aunts, Tonya Isabell and Linda Jones, both spoke briefly at the event.

"I'm not an activist or anything.  I'm an aunt.  And what happened was just awful.  Sunday when we got this call was the worst thing you can even imagine," said Jones.  "She is somebody!  She was somebody! And what they did was not right."

Thirty-year-old Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle police on Sunday morning, after calling 911 to report what she believed to be a burglary at her home.

Officers who responded to the call were aware that Lyles had a history of mental health issues.  SPD has said she was armed with a knife when officers arrived at her home.

"It doesn't matter; everyone has issues of some sort or another, but it doesn't give you the right, nothing gives you the right, to take a human life for no reason," said Jones. 

Jones and Isabell told KING 5 the family chose not to take part in the march that followed Thursday's Black Women Matter rally.  They say they felt uncomfortable because they didn't know the event organizers and they don't want anyone politicizing Lyles' death.

Demonstrators spent several hours marching through downtown Seattle, chanting Charleena Lyles' name every step of the way.

© 2017 KING-TV


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