Justice in Aging extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old father, brother, and son who was senselessly murdered by police in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Horrific video footage depicts a white police officer, without provocation, escalating a routine traffic stop into a deadly altercation, pinning the unarmed Lyoya to the ground and fatally shooting him in the head. Lyoya, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, came to the United States with his family in search of “peace and protection.” But as a Black person living in the United States, Lyoya’s story took a tragic and all-too-familiar turn, calling to mind the murders of countless Black Americans who have been targeted and killed by police.
Lyoya’s murder is yet another painful reminder that we have work to do. At every level, our systems fail to protect Black Americans, in turn failing all of us. Lyoya’s murder at the hands of police underscores the need to end structural racism in our criminal justice system. We need to stop permitting the use of deadly force against people of color by holding elected prosecutors accountable for their failure to pursue charges against police officers for egregious acts. As long as our systems allow racist violence and bias against members of our communities to replicate unchecked, we must work together to fight structural racism in all its forms.
Recognizing that inequities and the impacts of racism and trauma compound through life and place older adults of color at disproportionate risk of poverty as they age, Justice in Aging continues our ongoing work to pursue changes in law and policy that advance equity in aging.