Another Victim in Raleigh

“Dey killed Venelle when I was 12, turned me against em / Sent me to my first funeral now I’m a victim (of tha law)”

-Lil Boosie, “Fuck the Police”

Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy shot Akiel Denkins on Feb. 29th, 2016. Twiddy shot a son, Rolanda Byrd’s. Twiddy shot a father of two. Twiddy shot a community member. Twiddy shot a human being. Twiddy took a life because the State said Akiel didn’t appear in court. Twiddy took a life because Akiel allegedly sold drugs. Twiddy took a life because the State decided to militarize the police and criminalize Black America. Twiddy did it, but the system is guilty.

In an interview with the local news, Rolanda calmly explained with a look of exasperation that community members informed her of her son’s murder. Community members told her how the crime was committed, Akiel’s life snuffed out. Witnesses say Akiel was in a car, saw the cops, and bolted. They say they heard the cop yell, “Stop, stop, stop”. They say they heard six or seven shots. They say each one went straight into Akiel’s back. The police, on the day they took Rolanda’s son’s life without a trial, told her nothing. They know their power is guarded by silence.

In Raleigh, North Carolina at S. East St. and Braggs Rd. at 7 P.M. Akiel’s community held a candlelight vigil and march. Black Lives Matter has made such a quick response possible, offering communities across America frames for the oppression they experience and repertoires of resistance. The response was also made possible by the existence of other organizations, like the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Black Lives Matter Youth Assembly, who are ready to get folks on the ground and organizing. Anarchists had quickly hung a sign, white cloth with red and black lettering, with the clearest statement of emotion, “Fuck the Police”. It was a statement blaring from the speakers as folks played Lil Boosie’s “Fuck the Police”. This sentiment would be repeated later as a mother and son would begin chanting “Fuck the Police” during the march.


To the left of PJ’s Grill & Groceries was a memorial to Akiel. It was behind this store where he became another victim. There were red and black balloons, a poster sized picture of Akiel, and candles. We each took turns paying our respects and laying down a candle. My close friend cried. The people around us were somber, each making their way. We were surrounded by families, mothers, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Many were directly affected, they were his friends, his family, his people, and they wanted justice.


After speakers died off, the mulling crowds organized to begin the march towards the Bible Way Temple where a community meeting would be held. The chants began, “Black Lives Matter”, “No Justice, No Peace”, and my personal favorite from the Black Lives Matter Youth Assembly, “Wake up, Wake up, We want Freedom, Freedom, All these racist ass cops, we don’t need ‘em, need ‘em”. The energy was building and we were off. The chanting continued, the signs came out. Many wanted to truly shut it down. They wanted a confrontation. They would not get it.

As the protest arrived at its destination, Apostle Darnell Dixon Sr. of the Bible Way Temple stood on the stoop and told the people to be “constructive” and be “focused on Raleigh”. He said those willing to enter into a dialogue could come in. You could feel the energy being sucked directly out of this righteous manifestation. Yet, the grumbling activists were not the community, and this is how the community deliberated. At least the leadership, at least the elders. Important questions are raised by this event, especially for activists who may want to play savior rather than create solidarity.

A young black woman outside the Church said that this was a battlefield. She said that they shouldn’t go inside. She wanted to go to the Court House. She wanted to march and fight back, to resist. She called to take this to the bougie, white neighborhoods where they get peace in this racist society. She wanted to actualize the large red banner reading, “For a World Without Cops”. Alas, on this night, the night Akiel was murdered, that utopia would not be. We should not quickly dismiss it, because it is the future we strive for. Resistance is what is called for.

Rolanda Byrd was asked by reporters what she would do, if she would ask for calm. Her response is apt for a conclusion:

“I can’t even say that. I can’t even say calm, because how can we keep calm in every circumstance when they can calmly pull their triggers on our sons. That’s my son. Why should we have to stay calm at all times? Why should we show our calm when they’re not showing theirs? Why wasn’t their taser pulled out to taser him while he was jumpin’ over that fence? What happened to bean bag guns? They use to those that to stop a criminal. They don’t do that anymore. Now there’s just bullets, all bullets. Why? 24 years old. He was jumpin’ a fence. He wasn’t running towards anyone. He wasn’t threatening anyone. Because you saw his record on your computer.”

More articles by:

Andrew Smolski is a writer and sociologist.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings