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'We got to connect' | Mothers who lost their kids to police officer shootings hope for change

Mothers rally with protesters in Stockton for police reform in the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis

STOCKTON, Calif. — Among the sea of signs and people demanding action in the way they believe police view the black community, close to 200 protesters gathered at Downtown Stockton's MLK Plaza.

"No justice, no peace!" the crowd chanted.

Among them, Dionne Smith-Downs, a Stockton mother who lost her 16-year-old son James Rivera Junior in the summer of 2010.

"We got to connect. It's gonna take a village of mothers to make this happen," said Smith-Downs.

It was in North Stockton a decade ago when police say her son crashed a stolen van into a home following a police pursuit.

RELATED: After day of peaceful demonstration, Stockton police chief says protesters 'got their message out'

The car went into reverse and that's when officers believed they were in fear for their lives and opened fire, killing the teen.

Smith-Downs doesn't believe the argument. She says officers got away with murder.

Smith-Downs recently came home to Stockton after spending a week in Minneapolis.

It was a 29-hour drive with a group of others from Stockton to see where George Floyd died. She marched past the burned out buildings and met up with a group of other mothers who lost their kids to police gunfire.

Floyd's last words crying out "mama" convinced Smith-Downs to make her pilgrimage.

"So, I wanted to be there to let him know that I heard his cry," Smith-Downs said.

Also on the trip, Lisa Simpson. She lost her 18-year-old son Richard to Los Angeles police gunfire in 2016.

News reports described the incident at the time as a running gun battle with police.

READ ALSO: 'We will continue to chose community in this crisis' | Stockton Mayor Tubbs delivers State of the City Address

Simpson says her son was unarmed and was running with his hands up. 

She says she wanted to be in Minneapolis to show solidarity with the Floyd family.

"To show them that us families are united. We are one, and we're not taking no more," said Simpson.

Both Simpson and Smith-Downs hope the momentum building for an end to police brutality in some cases will be met with change and reform in law enforcement when it comes to the black community and other minorities.

The protesters vow to bring their message to North Stockton for another demonstration at the corner of March Lane and Pacific Avenue.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Kurt Rivera.


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WATCH ALSO: Protest cancelled in Stockton after protesters believe they made progress with police

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