LAURINBURG —Tequisa McPhatter is hitting the streets to share her message that Black Lives Matter.
After watching videos of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille while in police custody, the Laurinburg native said she could not “sit and do nothing.”
McPhatter, who now lives in Greensboro, was in Scotland County last weekend to conduct a one-woman protest march from Laurinburg to Fayetteville. She said she would like to organize a community rally in the near future.
“My goal is to continue to bring awareness, to spark the mind of one person and create a domino or a snowball effect. Maybe something will click and say ‘if she can do so can I,’ ” she said. “I definitely want to do a peaceful march to bring awareness and educate people, letting them know how important this is. Because it is an ongoing battle, it’s a continuous thing. I don’t do well with injustice.”
It’s also personal for her.
She said her teenage cousin, Shaqur McNair, was killed by Fayetteville police in Oct. 13, 2013. McNair was shot after lone police officer responded to a domestic call. The officer said McNair failed to heed his commands and reached for a handgun from his waistband. The teen was shot three times. No criminal charges were filed against the policeman.
“That is why I walked to Fayetteville. He was 16 years old and a native of Laurinburg. That just did something to me. Nobody deserves it.”
McPhatter is also the mother of two young sons and worries what it will be like when they get older. She said they were reason she decided on the impromptu 41-mile march. McPhatter had hoped to be joined by others, but did not mind going alone.
“When you put actions behind what you say people looking at you different. I said on my status, all I need is one person. Your word is your bond. I don’t care what kind of occupation you are in, your word is your bond. People liked it but nobody said let’s do this.”
She met some people along the way who walked with her or stopped to ask what her purpose was, but with anything there were also the naysayers to which she didn’t respond to.
“I didn’t really have to say nothing, I just did it, because you said I couldn’t do it. At the end of the day I believe that it was an assignment from God and when God tells you to to move you just go. People just looked at the physical.”
Some drivers honked their horns and some gave her the fist in the air as they passed her. Others had no reaction. A mother and daughter were the first to join on her on her route and walked with her until police said she was impeding traffic. McPhatter decided to ride on U.S. 401 and walk though the towns.
She stopped at a restaurant in Raeford, but was turned away. The owners told her they didn’t want any trouble.
Her response, “the law ain’t even abiding by the law.”
She welcomes anyone to join in her fight, but is adamant that they be peaceful. McPhatter said that those that want to be violent can do something on their own.
But she is also honest in her feelings about law enforcement.
“I don’t trust the police. I know all police are not the same. It’s a occupation, but they are turning it into something else,” she said. “They’re not above the law. The law just allows them to carry guns. You get to the point police are not held accountable for their actions. The law is not even the law.”
She has put herself in the shoes of the mothers, daughters, wives and girlfriends of the men who were killed.
“My purpose is to be their voice, everyone who has been gunned down. I am Sandra Bland, I am my cousin, I am those who were gunned down,” she said.
When asked if is there a difference between police involved killings and black-on-black violence, she says yes.
“You kill somebody and they find you and you get in their custody it’s a wrap. Nobody is going to give you a slap on the wrist,” she said.
She said the justice system should treat officers like everyone else.
“Nobody is perfect, I understand it, but take ownership. It’s still a crime what the police officers did. It’s been too many times people have been getting a slap on the wrist. When you commit that crime you’re no longer the badge.”
Reach Maria D. Grandy at 910-506-3171.