Diahlo Grant Case: Soaries Will Call For Federal Investigation; Black Lives Matter Hits The Streets

Diahlo Grant March - 22

Protesters march in New Brunswick July 21, demanding answers in the death of township resident Diahlo Grant.

The Rev. DeForest “Buster” Soaries said July 21 that he will call for a federal investigation of whether a Franklin man’s civil rights were violated when he was killed in a shootout with township police.

Several hours later, unrelated to Soaries’ statement, the Rutgers University chapter of Black Lives Matter took to the streets in New Brunswick, marching and chanting from the spot on which the man was killed to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office building.

Representatives of the approximately 100 marchers said they want answers to questions surround the killing.

On April 9, 27-year-old Diahlo Grant was killed after he allegedly engaged in a shootout with township police in New Brunswick.

According to official reports and sources close to the investigation, two uniformed Franklin police officers stopped Grant near Somerset and Home streets when they recognized him as being wanted on two warrants. Grant allegedly fled across a ravine that borders Franklin and New Brunswick, where he allegedly pulled a gun and shot at police before he was killed by one of the officers.

Friends, family and supporters of Grant have denounced the fact that three months have passed since Grant’s death, and there has been no official word on the case since the initial statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

From April 15: In Our Opinion: Prosecutor Carey, End The Silence

DeForest Soaries

The Rev. DeForest Soaries.

Soaries, head pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens on Route 27, said that he will wait for the criminal aspect of the case to be resolved before calling for the investigation.

“I plan to ask for a federal investigation at the appropriate time, based on civil rights issues,” Soaries said. The criminal aspect is under review now, he said, but “I’m interested in supplementing that with a look at the civil rights implications.”

Speaking of the march, which he did not attend, Soaries said it was an “appropriate response led mostly by young people, due to the fact that they’ve heard nothing from the Prosecutor.”

“They have my blessings,” Soaries said. “I think young people should express themselves with passion, as long as they understand what it takes to remain non-violent.”

Franklin resident and Rutgers University junior Taqwa Brooking, the chairperson of Black Lives Matter – Rutgers, said the march was meant to highlight the fact that Grant’s family and friends have received no answers to their questions about his death.

“We want to know why was he stopped, what happened, why was he shot at, things of that nature,” she said. “We want information not only so that our community knows and trusts that our justice system is working for us, but also so that the family gets a chance to grieve. They don’t know what happened, they don’t know how he died, how are they supposed to get closure?”

Brooking said among the piece of information that should be released by the prosecutor are any videos, transcripts of interviews with the involved officers, and forensics reports.

“We just want to make sure that everything they say is true and to do that, we need more information,” she said.

Under the watchful eyes of New Brunswick Police – who stopped traffic for them when necessary – the group started their march down Somerset Street, chanting slogans such as “Black Lives Matter,” “No justice, no peace,” and repeating Grant’s name.

Along the way, they stopped at several intersections and formed a circle while Brooking spoke through a bullhorn she rested on one shoulder.

Wen they arrived at their destination – the Kirkpatrick Street offices of the Middlesex County Prosecutor – the group formed another circle, chanted slogans and heard several people, including Grant’s family members, speak.

At one point, police officers were spotted looking down at the protestors from the roof of the office building, which riled up some of the marchers.

The group then marched back using a different route, which included two stops on George Street.

After about 2.5 hours, the marchers arrived back at their starting point. March organizers thanked the New Brunswick Police for their help in the event.

Grant had children with several women; one of them, South River resident Naomi Whitsett, said Grant was “a beautiful person and a beautiful father.”

“All I want is justice for him, and for the questions to be answered, and for all the mothers of his children and his friends and famly to have closure, that’s all we want,” she said.


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