For the past few weeks I have being thinking about my friend Burnell Butler and wondering what he’s doing these days. I had even looked for him on Facebook but no luck. Well this past Sunday the doorbell rang and to my surprise it was Burnell.
He brought with him four handsome well-mannered boys who happened to be his grandsons. He introduced me as his second father because of our close relationship that was established during the police shooting and killing of his niece Tyisha Miller.
Of course we wasted no time catching up on what he has been doing and where he has been. He finally explained that he was in San Bernardino at a church service and the boys were getting restless, so he wanted to see if we still lived in the same place. I am so glad we haven’t moved a lot because many friends stop by whom we have not seen in a long time.
For those who do not know, I met Burnell eighteen years ago when he was leading the protests of the police abuse shooting of his niece Tyisha Miller that turned into a national and international story. I know because our small weekly newspaper, Black Voice News got calls from the BBC out of England, New York Times, Mohammed Speaks of Chicago and other news outlets, all wanting to know what was going on and how they could get in touch with Rev. Burnell Butler.
Burnell would come by our office and home or I would be at his parents’ home in Rubidoux, at steering committee meetings or every Monday Morning on the steps of city hall. These protests lasted well over a year, only ending with the officers being terminated, a historic consent decree issued by the state’s Attorney General, a community police review commission created, a new police chief appointed, and better community relations between the citizens. He has made a long lasting difference in this community.
It was great to see my friend and we committed to get together soon since he is back in the area. Of course I found some pictures to share with you and him.