Julius Tate's family plans multi-day march

Joel Oliphint
joliphint@columbusalive.com
A memorial on Mount Vernon Avenue near where Julius Tate was shot and killed by police.

Ever since her older brother Julius Tate was killed by police during a sting operation in December of 2018, 16-year-old Maryam said she has had trouble sleeping.

“It's been really hard. A lot of us in my house, we don't really sleep that much anymore. We don't get to sleep until the early hours of the morning. When Julius first died, I actually had a mental breakdown,” she said. “We mostly try to [focus on] the good memories.”

Police shot and killed Tate, Maryam’s then-16-year-old brother, in the course of an undercover investigation into a series of robberies tied to in-person sales arranged online. As told in a 2019 Alive cover story on the incident, “According to CPD ... a SWAT officer, who posed as a potential buyer, agreed to meet Tate to purchase an item with cash near the Near East Side intersection of Mount Vernon and North Champion avenues. ... During this exchange, CPD said Tate pulled a gun and robbed the officer, at which point another SWAT officer, Eric Richards, shot and killed Tate.”

The case became controversial not only because of the undercover nature of the sting operation and the decision to shoot and kill Tate, a juvenile, but also because Tate’s then-girlfriend, Masonique Saunders, was charged in the killing. (In a plea deal, Saunders later admitted to delinquency charges of aggravated robbery and involuntary manslaughter; she was sentenced to three years in a Department of Youth Services prison.)

Over time, Maryam, who spoke by phone on behalf of her mother, Jamita Malone, said people seemed to forget about Tate. But recent uprisings have refocused activists’ attention. “My brother's name had been swept under the rug. Everybody had forgotten about him,” she said. “We always had hope, but with the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, that's really what got people out on the street.”

Starting this past Wednesday and running through Thursday, Sept. 17, Tate’s family and other organizers will march in solidarity under the banner of #Justice4Julius. For the first eight days, protesters are meeting at 5 p.m. at Broad and High streets Downtown, and the next eight days they’ll gather at the same time at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Champion avenues, near where Tate was shot and killed.

One of the main goals of the extended march, Maryam said, is to keep Tate’s name out there so that it isn’t forgotten. The family is also asking for Tate’s diploma from Columbus Scioto High School, which Maryam said is being withheld. They'll also add their voices to a chorus that's demanding changes to law enforcement. “We want to see not just police reform. We want to see the police department abolished,” she said.

Tate’s family also sees the marches as one step on a path to broader change. “The government in America, it needs pressure. It's not just going to take suggestions from its citizens,” Maryam said. “It needs pressure.”