By Phoenix Staff, Photos by Max Handzel
The Utica Abolitionists took things a step further last month when they went from rallying at Oneida Square to marching down State Street onto UPD Headquarters to demand the termination of Utica Police officer Matthew Felitto who assaulted a handcuffed suspect, and to demand that the UPD charge SGT Geddes for the 2005 alleged killing of Walter Washington as well as Officer Ellis (Ret) for the alleged killing of Jesse Lee Rose in 2013. 

Low and behold, Sergeant Samuel Geddes was just recently suspended for use of excessive force, and so the Utica Abolitionists took the opportunity to again march on UPD and again demand that Sgt. Geddes be charged for his role in Washington’s death. This was no surprise in terms of reaction or method, but this event does stand out none the less. On Wednesday the Abolitionists, accompanied by members of Walter Washinton’s family, actually entered into the UPD building’s lobby and made their demands there. Police presence was nonexistent. According to the Abolitionists, entering the building was not premeditated. 

The group issued this press statement: 

We, the Utica Abolitionists, stand with Walter Washington’s family and hold the District Attorney’s office, the Utica Police Department and the entire city administration to blame for the tragic killing of Walter Washington and the ongoing grave abuse of justice surrounding his death. Now, 15 years later, with no justice served, we are calling on the community to join us as we march today from Oneida Square to the Utica Police Station with Walter’s family and the community to demand the termination and conviction of Samuel Geddes. We are also calling for the abolition of the very system rooted in violence, racism and corruption that set in place the injustices that cut Walter’s life tragically short, tormented his friends and family, and plagued his case. On July 5, 2005, then Officer Samuel Geddes of the Utica Police Department shot and killed Black Utica resident Walter Washington. The UPD changed their story of how Washington was killed several times, going so far as to pressure neighbors to sign false statements saying that they witnessed a Black man with a hoodie run into Washington’s partner’s backyard and kill him.  As a result of this killing and cover-up, a very loose investigation was conducted in which a number of witnesses were never interviewed, conflicting evidence was not followed up on and the same officer in question acted as the star witness in a case in which he was the killer. Since then, Geddes has been promoted to sergeant and has, very recently, been suspended without pay after a violent incident in which he pepper sprayed a woman and teenager in Utica.  We will not stop organizing, protesting, and taking collective action until our demands are met.


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